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MonkeyNotes-Walden by Henry David Thoreau
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WALDEN AS SOCIAL COMMENTARY

Thoreau describes Walden as a work of art. It is structured around eighteen essays that tell of his experience of living in the woods; each essay seems to have both personal and social commentary.

Despite the self-limiting experience that the text offers, it gives much wise advice on how to live a better life and is still applicable today. First and foremost, Thoreau shows the value of simplifying life, leaving behind the chaos and materialism characteristic of city existence. By living more simply, man can come into communion with Nature and seek to know himself. Through self-knowledge, he can reach a higher level of existence, living a more meaningful and spiritual life. He can then find happiness in knowing and accepting who he is


Thoreau does not expect everyone to live in the woods; instead he calls for them to make their present life less hectic, to study the natural world to know more about themselves, to put creativity back into their existence, to purify their lifestyle, and to remember that every living thing is a creation of God. He also criticizes the pompousness of government officials, stating that they have little regard for all living things. Thoreau also offers advice on minor ways of living. He speaks out against the killing of animals for sport or food and strongly advocates vegetarianism as a way to obtain a higher level of living. He also criticizes the obsession that humans have for news, gossips, and fads. He also faults the educational system for not really teaching the students.

During the course of Walden, Thoreau proves that what he advocates is practical advice. At the end of the book, he has gone through a rebirth. When spring thaws out Walden Pond, Thoreau is a new person, more sure of himself and his beliefs. He is confident about returning to society and living a life of meaning and value in the midst of the chaos and materialism that will surround him. The reader his little doubt that his experience at Walden Pond has changed Thoreau into a much deeper and better man.

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