Thoreau Analysis

1737 words - 7 pages

1. With the statement, “Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them,” Thoreau is saying that many people in the world, including the United States, are not able to enjoy life because they are too preoccupied with working and earning wealth to buy unnecessary goods. Thoreau believes that men only need four things to survive: fuel, food, shelter, and clothing. However, according to Thoreau, people still strive to obtain more and more unnecessary material goods. To obtain these goods, Thoreau writes, “He has no time to be ...view middle of the document...

Essentially, Thoreau is happy with his life, and therefore, he lives a successful life, regardless of what others believe.
3. Thoreau believes that luxuries are bad for mankind. In fact, he even wrote, “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but also positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Thoreau is saying that luxuries are not needed and that luxuries can have a negative impact on people. This quotation relates to Thoreau’s views on clothing and shelter because Thoreau believed that humans should only have the bare essentials regarding shelter and clothing. Thoreau despises the luxuries of a large home, because large homes cost an immense amount of money, yet keep people warm just as well as smaller and cheaper homes. Also, Thoreau is not a supporter of excessive and luxurious furniture, because he felt that furniture often went unused and was simply a burden to clean. Similarly, Thoreau explains that ragged yet warm clothing is beneficial and that luxurious yet thin and uncomfortable clothing is not. In fact, Thoreau explains a story when a worker, whom Thoreau perceived to be poor, needed to come into Thoreau’s home in order to warm up. Thoreau offered the worker extra clothes, but the worker kindly declined, as he had enough clothes on to remain warm, even after taking off some layers. Thoreau’s story is a perfect example of how simple yet effective clothing is far superior than luxurious yet unpractical clothing. The story shows that only the rugged and simple clothing that the worker owned was able to keep the him warm, and that luxurious clothes would not have protected the worker from the harsh outdoor elements, because luxurious clothes are simply not practical.
4. Thoreau is specifically addressing his essays to people who are not content with, but have the ability to change, their own lives. Thoreau states that he is not writing for people “who will mind their own affairs whether in heaven or hell,” nor is he writing for people “who are well employed,” but is writing for “the mass of men who are discontented, and idly complaining of their lot or of their times, when they might improve them.”
It is clear who Thoreau wants to address with his essays, and he believes that he can help his audience because of his own personal experiences. In the introduction to his essay, Thoreau alludes to many of his personal experiences and life lessons, including losing, “a hound, a bay horse, and a turtle-dove” (Thoreau 14). By this, Thoreau means that he was chasing unattainable things of life, like many of his readers are. He also explains that he worked on a farm, and that he had failed in his effort to become a town officer in his local town. Essentially, Thoreau lived like many of his readers, but was able to overcome failure and ultimately create a happy life for himself. Thoreau believes that his personal experiences of success enable him to teach others how to overcome...

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