The Environment in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden
Henry David Thoreau was a master of the land around him. He knew every turn, tree, and every little thing about the forest and wilderness. He knew so much that “in his journal he says that he helped fugitive slaves get across Canada.” He was called the conductor of the underground railroads. Only because he knew the country side so well, could he get these slaves across the wilderness and terrain of Concord and Fitchburg. Thoreau loved the wilderness so much that he wanted to keep it preserved all around. “He made it his business to maintain the forest paths”, with this you can see that Thoreau loved didn’t take the job of protecting wildlife and the wilderness lightly.
There was a comparison between Jefferson & Thoreau. Some could say that the two was similar in many ways, others could say that they were the complete opposite. Jefferson was more of a laid-back worker. He owned farm land but did absolutely no work, all of his slaves did everything on the farm for him. On the other hand, Thoreau owned land as well but he did his work by himself. This could be a reason some could say Jefferson and Thoreau were different. Another way you could see the difference between Thoreau and Jefferson was their perception of the government. Thoreau believed that the government is at its best when “it governs least”, but Jefferson believes that the government was at its best when it governed “not at all”.
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Love of the Wild
In the book Walden, Thoreau explains his love for the wilderness and how the wilderness is truly beautiful in his eyes. Thoreau explains that when people usually viewed the wilderness that it was “viewed with hostility for the perfect good reason”. When someone pictures the wilderness, they picture it as a dangerous pace. A place where there are no laws, no safety no mercy. The animals, terrain, temperature and the native all made the wilderness seem like this. Thoreau wanted to show that none of this was true. He calls is “God’s System”, what he means by this is that the nature and wilderness is all a work of God’s business. That is was created to all work in harmony together. Not one thing was out of place, the cycle of life, the different habitats, and the animals. He said to escape “Satan’s system”, the town and cities were all a part of the devil’s system. That is broke down the wilderness and took away from the beauty of the earth. Edward Johnson is also included in this to make paint a picture of how truly beautiful the wilderness in in its natural form. The “untamed forest”, he explains its nothing like the world has ever seen.
Thoreau wanted to escape Walden. He wanted to escape the “Devil’s system” and wanted to go to “nature chief value”. The world was changing around him, he watched as people cut down trees, destroyed homes, and even built museums to show the land that they just cut down. The “Social corruption” ruined the beauty of God’s system and people stopped going out to look at the forest for what it actually was and just watched it from a television screen or phone.
A Divided Attitude
Thoreau was a hunter, he thought about hunting as a bad thing as for killing. He soon changed his mind on his thoughts. Thoreau described hunting as “a stage to becoming a man and expression yourself.” Hunting was once a rich man’s sport and was popular all around. People enjoyed the view of hunting and the dogs running, even some presidents hunted. When most people think of hunting they think of the killing, nothing more nothing less. They see an animal being shot down and killed, Thoreau begged to differ. He saw attraction to hunting, he described it as a sport. It’s not just to shoot anything at sight but to study how the animal moves, how to get the kill shot, how to know the land. You have to take in many factors to hunt. It’s a thrill riding experience to be out there in the wilderness to see the animal and to feel the energy flowing through you as you line up the shot and strike the animal down. Thoreau didn’t want to be seeing as someone who kills for the fun, or for being a carnivorous monster, as some would call hunters. He wanted people to see how hunting feeds the soul and helps people connect with the wilderness. Giving them a reason to want to preserve the forest for future generation and to be home to many.
Thoreau believed that it was no too late to save the environment. He agreed that things had gotten bad with the environment and the socialism. He said it would take the communities and the towns to help preserve and help the forest around them. The Government and federal government would have to pitch in the help balance out the fight between saving the environment and cutting it down to make houses and towns. Thoreau believes that no one will hear the cry of the forest until its too late. The animals will be gone, the jungle, tropical forest, it will all be gone. Nothing would be left for future generation to look upon or to experience. Everyone hears it, but no one is listening. The ones who do hear the environmentalist, are not strong enough to change the whole process. Thoreau explains the humanity has become selfish in its ways. Not thinking anything of the future but only for now, and leaves future generation to deal with the problem. Thoreau thought it was important to know about everything, greenhouses glasses, neurotoxins and etc.
- Thoreau Henry, The Environment in henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Detroit, ed. Gary Wiener Detroit: Gale learning