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Friday, 7 October 2011

Thoreau's views on Economy in 'Walden'

Thoreau advises simplification of all needs of life to have a better economy. He points out that modern man has converted all luxuries of life into necessities. According to him, food is the mot essential requirement of humans’ and other necessities like shelter, clothing and fuel have an element of luxury about them. His purpose of going to Walden Pond was to show that life can be led the best way when done in simplest manner (Thoreau 1985).

According to Thoreau, economy refers to a very careful spending of money for the natural activities. For the society, both during Thoreau’s time and later also till date, economy means exchange of money by consumerism. Thoreau says that people bog them selves down with too many details and materialistic aspirations. Success in one’s life is measured by acquisitions and disposable incomes. According to him, the best way to lead life is not by such economic considerations but by abandoning such clutches of material possessions in life (Thoreau 1985).

The approach of Thoreau to economy is totally different from those of others. He wonders why people own so many clothes when they wear only few of them repeatedly. He also wonders why people eat thrice a day when one meal per day is sufficient. He also wonders at everybody enquiring as to what the news is, showing the inquisitiveness in the lives of others while they can use that time for enriching their lives (Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau criticizes colleges for not preparing youth for real life. He criticizes the yearning for material possession for creating luxuries saying that these many production facilities are not required if people opt for a simple life(Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau’s philosophy preaching simplicity in life, no doubt is appealing and also practical as shown by eminent people, who despite all their achievements led simple lives. But this opting  for a simple way of life does not appeal to majority of the common people who are tempted by the pleasure of possessing things in abundance even if they don’t use them. So his views appear impracticable, not because they are really utopian, but because people normally don’t like to opt for such life(Thoreau 1985).

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