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Henry David Thoreau


Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 Hawthorne said that Thoreau was tedious, tiresome and intolerable. But, he also added he has great qualities of intellect and ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau
  • 1817-1862

  • Hawthorne said that Thoreau was tedious,
    tiresome and intolerable. But, he also added
    he has great qualities of intellect and
  • He seemed born for great enterprise and for
    command, Emerson said years later at Thoreaus
    funeral, and I so much regret the loss of his
    rare powers of action, that I cannot help
    counting it a fault in him that he had not
    ambition. Wanting this, instead of engineering
    for all America, he was the captain of the
    Huckleberry party.

  • He was born David Henry Thoreau in Concord,
    Massachussetts, in 1817.
  • His father was a pencil maker his mother took in
    boarders, one of them being Emersons sister.
  • Thoreaus attachment to Concord was established
    early in his life as he would wander the woods
    with his fishing pole.

  • He attended Harvard in 1833 and graduated in the
    middle of his class.
  • At Harvard he became familiar with English
    literature and with German philosophers who
    provided much of the underpinnings of
  • He was independent and eccentric.

  • Thoreau would eventually depart for Walden Pond
    where Emerson had offered him the use of some
  • The experiment at Walden Pond was an attempt to
    rediscover the grandeur and heroism inherent in a
    simple life led close to Nature (205).
  • I wish to meet the facts of life, he wrote in
    his journal, the vital facts, which are the
    phenomenon or actuality the gods meant to show
    usand so I came down here.

  • Again and again in Walden, Thoreau would return
    to images drawn from Greek and Latin epics,
    asserting the essential brotherhood between the
    adventurers of the mythic past and the
    truth-seeking voyager of the present (205).

  • The mass of men, as one of his most famous
    sentences in Walden puts it, lead lives of quiet
  • When he look toward town, Thoreau saw his
    prosperous fellow citizens so caught up in the
    material pursuits of making a living that they
    had become one-dimensional (206).

  • Walden is considered one of the greatest works
    ever produced in America. It successfully blends
    style and content his style is simple- at least
    on the surface.
  • For Thoreau, as for Emerson and the Romantics
    who preceded them, Nature itself was a form of
    language behind its outward appearance, Nature
    contained spiritual reality. Nature spoke to us,
    if we could understand the message about those
    vital facts which the gods meant to show us

  • While at Walden, as a protest against the Mexican
    War (seen as an attempt to extend American slave
    owning territory), Thoreau refused to pay his
    poll tax and spent a night in jail until someone
    paid it for him.
  • He was vocally and radically opposed to slavery.

  • Thoreau remained at Walden for a little over two
    years. In 1847, he moved in with Emerson and did
    odds jobs to help pay his room and board.
  • He eventually moved to his fathers house in
    Concord, where he remained for the rest of his
    life. He became a kind of Concord record keeper,
    tracking rainfall, snowfall, the first days of
    frost and the first days of spring.
  • He died of tuberculosis in 1862.

  • Sam staple told Emerson that he, never saw a man
    dying with so much pleasure and peace.
  • Henry, have you made your peace with God? his
    aunt is said to have asked him toward the end.
    Why Aunt, he replied, I didnt know we ever

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