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Thoreau Essay

  • Submitted by: sukh2014
  • on April 15, 2015
  • Category: English
  • Length: 2,928 words

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Below is an essay on "Thoreau" from Anti Essays, your source for research papers, essays, and term paper examples.

American culture and society seem to have a natural affinity for progressive thought, ideals, and systems, an affinity whose roots can be seen in our cultural attitudes of industry, expansion, and success.   Perhaps it is due to this glorification of originality that the journeys of self-discovery seen in Thoreau’s Walden and Krakauer’s Into the Wild are so wildly popular (for the most part) with the American population.   Walden is Thoreau’s account of the two years during which he retreated to nature to “live deliberately,” and the book acts as both a how-to guide and a carefully constructed detailing of Thoreau’s philosophical system (Thoreau 1854, 74).   Into the Wild depicts Chris McCandless’s modern-day journey across America and into the Alaskan wilderness, following in the footsteps of Thoreau in an effort to live by pure ideals.   On the surface, these stories appear to be highly similar, with their respective heroes maintaining the ideas of personal virtue and liberal individualism.   And while it is true that Thoreau and McCandless exhibit a few coinciding ideals, this paper will seek to unveil the finer points of their individual philosophies through a more thorough analysis of Walden, Into the Wild, and literary critiques of these works; a more in-depth understanding of Thoreau and McCandless will illuminate the various points at which their philosophies both resemble and depart from one another.   Finally, in light of potential differences, I would like to hypothesize upon whether McCandless’s journey, and his motives for it, would be supported or critiqued by Thoreau, who clearly paved the path for self-discovery in nature.   First, it is important to a comparison of Thoreau and McCandless to discuss the idea of liberalism, which has both a political connotation and a Romance-era inspired identity.   In his critique of Into the Wild, an article entitled “Opting Out: The Fantasy of Liberal Independence in Into the Wild,” Robert Watkins presents these two...

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