Walden As A Novel Against Materialistic Society
Walden was written in the spirit to prove that man could live on much fewer expenses and thus the effort a man put into earning the money to buy them was unnecessary.
Before diving deeper, Thoreau fails to point out that one of his friends owned Walden Pond and the surrounding land. Without his friend’s help, his experiment might have been cut short.
In his experiment, Thoreau moved to live in a small shack with only a few tools he took from his house in civilization alone. For two years, he lived off selling his produce in a small farm he started, patching up his clothes to prevent buying new ones. His life was simple, uncomplicated. Yet, it was the most fulfilling and rewarding. Thoreau was able to reap his own efforts without the interruption of mortgage companies and debt.
Perhaps if one looks beyond everything, the experiment in itself is the epitome of self-centeredness. Thoreau is unbothered by anyone and lives in near isolation. The subject of his study is himself, but it made me ponder whether it was truly negative in the pursuit of truth.
Through this book, Thoreau demonstrates incredible self reliance. Even when he borrows from others, he returns the item in better quality than before. However, within my first sentence lies a contradiction which some readers enjoy pointing out. How hypocritical it is to live on someone else’s land with tools that belong to others while simultaneously claiming to be self reliant. But Thoreau never claims to be anyone he is not and only stands by his beliefs. He is not overwhelmingly adamant about never seeking help from others and always aims to return favours. He seeks an absolutely individual stance toward everything, looking for the truth not in social conventions or inherited traditions but only in himself.
Even in the materialistic society that Thoreau lives in, he is able to look past that and discover that true fulfilment does not cost a dime. The simplicity he practices in life does not hinder him from enjoying such pleasures but instead, facilitates them. As someone who was sitting in a comfortable chair surrounded by all the objects that Thoreau would have labelled as wasteful while reading his book centered on minimalism and self reliance, his beliefs resonated with me. It led me to realize the importance of understanding one self and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived, as Thoreau would say. Though I do not plan to follow Thoreau’s footsteps by going into the woods, I too wish to deliberately live my life to the fullest.