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Walden Essay, Research Paper

The Downfalls of Patterned Living

Life is a conglomeration of patterns and imitations. Insecurity or simply laziness are generally the culprits behind the endless masses of people that choose to sacrifice their identities for conformity. They deny originality and consequently form that which we call society which is largely based upon false pretense and imitation. Both the comfort and stability of habit, and the fear of change or individuality lead these same masses of people to fall into the patterns that soon grow to define their lives. The diction, structure, and details that Thoreau implements in Walden emphasize his forceful tone highlighted by his disgust for conformity and socially induced overly complex lifestyles which he uses to inspire an opinionated reaction from the reader.

Thoreau uses straightforward and opinionated diction to illuminate his view that simplicity along with substance are the keys to happy and purposeful living and to create a negative tone towards unneeded luxuries. In the opening of this passage, Thoreau presents his thoughts in a clear and direct way when he says, I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life… (p 80). The bluntness of the word deliberately helps to define the idea of taking control of life with a sense of purpose and intent. Essential carries the weight of purpose as well, but with the added message of simplicity and necessity, both of which are main themes in Walden s life views. Thoreau uses his personal opinion to sway the reader when he says, which , by the way, are all external and superficial,… in relation to the nation s internal improvements. (p 81). The words external and superficial carry a negative tone which can be seen throughout the paragraph. Both of these words are used to sway the reader against the nation which can be associated with the herd mentality that Thoreau is set against. Later the nation is referred to again as being, an unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury… (p 82). Since a nation can be defined as a large group of people who generally follow the same practices and ways it would seem that Thoreau is condemning this same idea of unoriginality and a set, imposed way of life. Forceful words in this sentence such as tripped, ruined, and cluttered are all used in association with luxury and things which aren t life necessities, such as furniture. Thoreau forcefully associates negative words with socially accepted needs and then strong and purposeful words in relation to doing away with these unneeded luxuries and focusing on only what is necessary.

Structure is used to subtly emphasize Thoreau s main ideas and depict the common way of life in a negative light. Repetition is used when he says, ..error upon error, and clout upon clout… to create a droning effect (p 81). The repetition of the negative words reiterate what is wrong in common society. The listing of clout in the same repetitive manner right after error creates a picture of endless error and clout in society; one after another. Later in the passage simplicity is repeated. This repetition calls attention to a theme which Thoreau deems very important. The three simplicities are placed tactfully amidst long flowing sentences so as to call more attention to the thought of simplicity. The use of and between words is effective in creating an image when Thoreau states, In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand -and- one items… (p 81). By placing the and between clouds, storms, and quicksands, uses a listing effect to portray the thousand -and- one items mentioned later in the sentence. The ands also portray the chopping sea by creating a choppy sentence. This choppy image is intended to paint civilized life in a bad light. The direct structure amidst the longer sometimes winded structure helps to accentuate the central points of Thoreau purpose.

In the novel, Walden goes into great detail about very simple concepts, often using his own thoughts implemented into common ideas. The passage goes into great detail about the reason that Walden went into the woods. These details are important to the entire novel because the reader needs to understand Walden s motivation in order to empathize with him. The details given are intended to give Walden a credible voice so that the reader can approach the novel with a serious nature and perhaps adapt the theories presented in the novel. Thoreau presents much detail in relation to his thoughts on simplifying life.

When life is reduced to the same patterns and habits day after day, the simple joy of living is lost. The tone presented reflects this idea throughout by showing a animosity towards unoriginal thinking and unnecessary emphasis on frivolous things. Although Thoreau does not expect everyone in modern day society to move to the forest, he does try to present some ideas on society, returning to the simple things in life, and looking to nature for life s necessities in hope that the reader might reevaluate what is important in life.


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