College Essay Examples

Argumentative essay on Henry David Thoreau’s “where I lived, what I lived for.”

“Where I lived and what I Lived For” is Henry David Thoreau’s essay that attempts to present to the Western audience the Eastern values that include mindfulness, simplicity, living in the current moment, and detachment from materialism.  Through simplicity, one can become at peace, and this is a central theme throughout David Thoreau’s “Where I Lived and What I Lived For.” He takes in life in all of its natural glory, and this has brought him the most amount of happiness that life could offer. In just a small cabin by a pond, he can develop the most purity in his life, and himself. “I did not need to go outdoors to take the air, for the atmosphere within had lost none of its freshness” (Thoreau 13). It is the true simplistic nature of the cabin in which Thoreau lives that he can find peace. Thoreau wrote the story in the mid-1800s, but the essence of it remains true today. Thoreau emphasizes the value and importance of living the most uncomplicated life that nature can, and this fact stays true today.

            While some readers might believe that Thoreau countered his hypothesis by seemingly living an unfulfilled, isolated life, it becomes clear that his choice to live in isolation truly protects him from the potential to be involved in a community. If this was not already clear at the beginning of the book, he makes it utterly apparent later on, as if to put the final nail in the coffin: “through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and appearance” we seek to find reality (Thoreau 280). He fashions this metaphor to explain his belief that society clogs a person’s life with irrelevant information that makes him or her better off to live in isolation of it. He goes on to explain that news should be regarded as gossip since it is retold over and over, with the same storyline, but with merely a different name. He thinks people should disregard the news entirely, as it pushes them further away from the truth in life – as if to muddy the waters of a person’s mind. Surely, the simple life Thoreau encourages would keep those waters pure.

Importance and value of living a simple lifestyle

            Henry Thoreau expression in the essay “Where I lived and what I lived for,” is interesting and appealing due to its importance and value of living a simple lifestyle that nature can afford.  In essence, living in a simple lifestyle is the ideal idea for many people who attempt to overcome the ever-increasing challenges in the world.  Thoreau indicated that “Living a simple life can enable a person to enjoy every activity where an individual is content with as opposed to rushing to accomplish the daily chaos.” (Thoreau 62) Although Thoreau’s essay was interesting and pleasing, his writing style is hard and proves complex to understand. The construction of the sentences and paragraphs are in such a manner that makes it quite difficult to comprehend by many audiences. Thoreau’s writing style has at least three to four commas in every sentence making it harder to read and follow throughout. Thoreau was interested in putting as many words and information as he could in his sentence. However, through careful reading of the Thoreau’s essay, one can quickly get an understanding of the main ideas presented. 

Thoreau, in his essay, “Where I lived and what I lived for’ made a significant attempt to provide a compelling argument for his desire to go and live in the woods. There are many examples provided to support his perception and belief, as portrayed in the essay.  For instance, the article starts with Thoreau seemingly suggesting his primary purpose for moving to a cabin located on the Walden Pond.  He claims that the “woods offers a supercilious place where people can comfortably live” (Thoreau 46). Throughout the essay, Thoreau simplified the lives of individuals to as a small possible form as he could. Considering the real-world situation, the argument of Thoreau regarding simplified experience is real since human beings can have significant control over their lifestyles (Stephen 334). It implies that a person can avoid the things that are not routines and essential in their daily lives and choose only those they deem meet their interest and daily requirement. Besides, the preferences of people differ from one to another and thus living a comfortable life is relative depending on the unique needs of a person. Thoreau motives to move to words are motivated by his personal desire.

Interestingly, he indicates that moving to woods is necessitated by his desire to “drive the life into a corner and reduce it to its lowest terms.” Further, he indicates that moving to the woods is necessitated by the fact that he “wanted deeply live and sucks out all the marrow of life” (Thoreau 35). In his opinion, Thoreau argues that there is no other place where he can go apart from the nature to learn about the important of living. Furthermore, he clarifies the intentions regarding living deliberately through his explanation about living deeply and sucking out all the marrow of life.  This implies that he is interested in living a life to the fullest before his death. This is quite similar to the current culture where many people have the notion to live only once by doing something spontaneous and risky. The idea of Thoreau is comparable with the real-world situation. For instance, during the recession, a person might find relieved from the financial burden and stress experienced at such times and make life simple by enjoying the surrounding nature. However, this can only work for the people who have time to make life simple.

Respect for nature and the desire to simply live since nature is religious

Another notable element in Thoreau essay is his respect for nature and the desire to simplify live since nature is religious. He believes that individuals should glorify God and live happy lives forever.  One exciting thing about Thoreau argument is portrayed in his “disagreement of whether the world was created by God or devil” (Thoreau 33). In essence, he is uncertain regarding who made the world but has the desire to live a life that is as intense as possible, regardless of who made the world. The interpretation of Thoreau to nature is admirable, valuable, and adorable (Celarent 357). However, this is his way to see life, since not every person can agree with him, include the scholars who have researched the subject. 

In summary, Thoreau’s description of nature and search for the truth provides reality regarding the experience of individuals. The author portrays that human life is not just about physical aspects and functioning but also includes the fulfillment of eternal life. Thoreau, in his essay “Where I lived and what I lived for” portrays nature as a means a simple life. The main goal of Thoreau in the article is to reverse human’s blindness to the environment and make the life a comfortable and simple living. Considering the norm in society, individuals strive to obtain the most wealth, food, and everything to have the best experience. Mostly, many people recognize that was they grow older; money, power, or fame does not contribute to their happy lives. The argument is that simple things are the one responsible for great happiness in the lives of individuals.  

Works Cited

Celarent, Barbara. “Walden; Or, Life in The Woods. By Henry David Thoreau. Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1854. Pp. 357.”. American Journal of Sociology, vol 115, no. 2, 2009, pp. 649-655. University of Chicago Press, doi:10.1086/648657.

Stephen Burt. “Wallace Stevens: Where He Lived.” ELH, vol 77, no. 2, 2010, pp. 325-352. Project Muse, doi:10.1353/elh.0.0085.

Thoreau Henry “Henry David Thoreau’s Where I lived, and What I Lived For.’

Avatar photo

By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts