Henry David Thoreau's Integrity Essay

619 words - 2 pages

Henry David Thoreau's Integrity

Although his actions were admirable and act as evidence to integrity, the writings of Henry David Thoreau and Emerson reveal a haughty and pretentious individual. Thoreau's courage was noble. He was quick to immerse himself in his beliefs
and abandon any obligation to social norms despite the risk in damaging his
reputation. His rejection of societal limitations and steadfast individualism was truly commendable, however, his mannerisms were extremely rude. He cast aside all tact and consideration of others because he was so consumed with himself. “He coldly and fully stated his opinion without affecting to believe that it was the opinion of the company. It was of no consequence, if every one present held the opposite opinion.” (p. 1237) The motivations for a number of his decisions seem unclear. Integrity and discipline can be easily confused with conceit and narcissism. The extent of his appeal can be argued because his actions can be interpreted in a negative or positive light, depending on the audience.

Thoreau was quick to return favors to others. He cringed at the thought of being in debt to anyone. If something was lent to him, he would return it as soon as he was able, and in a better condition (such as in the instance when he returned the borrowed axe sharper then when he received it). This can be deduced as being pompous and stubborn or generous and independent. He was self sufficient but this strength can be somewhat aggravating. Thoreau felt so superior to his peers that he denied any aid in order to maintain his aloof character. That way, he never owed his accomplishments to anybody. There was nobody to be thankful for. “He seldom thanked colleges for their service to him, holding them in small esteem, whilst yet his debt to...

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