The Life of Henry ThoreauHenry Thoreau lived a short and simple life. During the time he was alive, he was thought of by many, as an odd man. Though considered odd, Thoreau lived a life that was, to him, fulfilling. He had strong opinions and stood by them, not being afraid at all to speak his mind. If he had not done what he believed to be right during his life, Thoreau would later have regrets about his actions. So to him, following his beliefs was a rule he would live by.Thoreau "walked to the beat of a different drummer,"ÃÂ as he would state of himself.
During his life, he only wrote two books. A Week on the Concord and Merrick Rivers and Walden. Neither of his publications sold many copies during his life but Thoreau would end up being more widely read than Emerson in the twentieth century.
Emerson, who was Thoreau's mentor, let Thoreau live in his house for a short time. During his stay, Thoreau would take care of the house. Though Thoreau looked up to Emerson, Thoreau practiced what he preached much more closely than Emerson did. And what Thoreau preached, was true individualism. He wanted to reform society and many of his beliefs are still recognized today.
One example of how Thoreau followed his teachings was when he was asked to pay a small tax toward the government. He refused to pay the tax and would spend the night in jail for his actions. He was released only because his aunt paid the tax for him. This episode sparked his interest to write the famous essay Civil Disobedience. This essay would prove to have a strong affect later in history.
What Thoreau may be most famous for in his life though, is the period of his life spent at Walden Pond. He spent two years living there observing nature, and living in peace in a small cabin that he built himself. This experience is what led Thoreau to write Walden, which is basically a book about Thoreau's observations of nature. It is considered today, an American Classic.
Today, Thoreau's works are considered masterpieces and his beliefs are widely popular because of the controversy they bring about government and advances in society. But along with this, they bring a righteousness that is admired by many throughout history.