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Friday, 7 October 2011

Thoreau's views on Society in 'Walden'

Thoreau advises that men should lead a simple life and be self-reliant. Conforming to rules and norms, in his view, is equivalent to losing autonomy. He believed that people around him lacked in individualism and to avoid them he went for a secluded life in woods and produced a masterpiece of collection of essays, “Walden”(Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau is of the view that, men are busy doing jobs like a machine thereby, losing humanity. This mechanical life, according to him is mediocre(Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau views 'inheritance of property' as a means to loss of individuality and freedom. He says that these inheritances are easy to acquire but difficult to get rid of (Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau criticizes public opinion because it deprives the people of their choice of how to be viewed. He labels public opinion as a weak tyrant. He is of the view that men should direct their lives in the way they feel about them rather than how public expects them to live and behave (Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau was also critical of the advice from the elderly. He says that their experience in life may be enriching, but inapplicable to the lives of the young. Life is unique to everyone and everyone should live it his own way. Heeding to other’s advices, in his view is loss of individuality (Thoreau 1985).

Thoreau does not spare even the younger generation. He says that while the younger generation tries to float and follows new ideas, different from those of the old, they again commit the same mistake of imposing their advices on others. Such attitude, he feels, should be changed. There is no time limit for such a change. One can change at any stage of his life(Thoreau 1985).

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