AP English 11
26 Feb 2014
Transcendentalist Comparison: Henry Thoreau vs. Chris McCandless
Many people have theories and philosophies about life in general. There have been countless amounts of books published by countless amounts of people on the ideas of people in the past and the present. Transcendentalism falls into a sector of all of these ideas. Transcendentalism has affected many people since the philosophy was first introduced. Henry Thoreau is a name that is always associated with transcendentalism through one of his famous novels,Walden. John Krakauer is able to explain how transcendentalism has affected Chris McCandless in the novel Into The Wild. McCandless's life is comparable to Thoreau's in a variety of ways such as motives, however both McCandless and Thoreau's lives are much different by means such as their reasons for traveling, and what they did.
Both Thoreau and McCandless were against materialism. Thoreau feels that “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind” (Thoreau, Walden 28). He thinks that dependance of worldly possessions hidera ones chance of finding their true self. McCandless had a similar mentality, and acted upon that belief. An example of this is when “…he saw the flash flood as an opportunity to shed unnecessary baggage. He concealed the car as best he could beneath a brown tarp, stripped it of its Virginia plates, and hid them” (Krakauer 29). McCandless was not tied to his own possessions, he was happy to leave them in the middle of no where. Through reduction of worldly possessions and materials, the message that both McCandless and Thoreau throw at the readers is to have a simplistic life without the concerns coming from worldly possessions. These possessions deter one from the true meaning of life.
Both Thoreau and McCandless had a deep appreciation for solitude in nature. In Walden, Thoreau explains how he’d “... love to see Nature that is so rife with life that myriads can be afforded to be sacrificed and suffered to prey on one another; that tender organizations can be so serenely squashed out of existence..” (Thoreau, Walden 238). While being on his “adventure”, Thoreau was able to observe all of the little things in nature, and appreciate all of the little things. While in civilization, one would not be able to notice such things because there are much too many people around to notice. While on his journey, McCandless “No longer... poisoned by civilization,…walked alone upon the land to become lost in the wild” (Krakauer 163). Even McCandless was aware that civilization acted as poison to an individuals self-finding. McCandless sought to become one with nature, without being distracted by civilization. By living alone in the wilderness, they’re journey into the wild gave them the life that they had been longing for....