"Essential Living" by Henry David Thoreau.

Essay by jae487College, UndergraduateA+, December 2005

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An eccentric, Henry David Thoreau lived a dichotomous life of rebel and poet. The genius of Thoreau, overlooked during his lifetime, offers an anomalistic view of living. Harbinger of simplicity, he demonstrates the ideology of a minimalist life using pen, paper and an innate sense of self. Encapsulated by this keen personal insight, Thoreau's masterful rhetoric exemplifies the interrelatedness of thought, deed and unity of text. Nature, education, principle and social doctrine fostered Thoreau's interest in an elementary existence. Secondary to the tenets of a Structuralist analysis of his writing, Cultural Poetics shape his intent to defy social norms and live minimally. Vernon L. Parrington stated the following, "The single business of Henry Thoreau, during forty-odd years of eager activity, was to discover an economy calculated to provide a satisfying life" (Derleth ix).Thoreau's ideology punctures the paradox of living a full, yet minimalist life.

Born July 12, 1817, in Virginia, Thoreau and his family settled in Concord where his father was a pencil maker.

Early in his youth, Thoreau, "a grave boy", wrote his first nature-minded essay, "The Seasons". (Derleth 4). His propensity for solitude and nature blossomed during this time, as indicated within his prose and outdoorsman ship. At the age of sixteen, Thoreau entered Harvard where he studied the classics, mastering Greek, Latin and French. Fellow students surmised, "We could sympathize with his tranquil indifference to college honors, but we did not suspect the fine genius that was developing under that impassive demeanor" (Derleth 6). During his 3rd year at Harvard, Thoreau read an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson entitled "Nature". Enraptured by Emerson's work - Emerson, 14 years older than Thoreau, was "an inspiration to the young. He encouraged them to revolt against outmoded beliefs, to challenge conventions...and to express themselves" - Thoreau made a concerted effort...