Thoreau's Message in Walden
In Walden, Henry D. Thoreau presented a radical and controversial perspective on society that was far beyond its time. In a period where growth both economically and territorially was seen as necessary for the development of a premature country, Thoreau felt the opposite. Thoreau was a man in search of growth within himself and was not concerned with outward improvements in him or society. In the chapter entitled "economy," he argued that people were too occupied with work to truly appreciate what life has to offer. He felt the root of this obsession with work was created through the misconstrued perception that material needs were a necessity, rather than a hindrance to true happiness and the full enjoyment of life. He felt that outside improvement can't bring inner peace and also working took all their available time. That is why he disapproved the idea of Industrial revolution as it provided work for the people.
Walden was written at the time of the Industrial revolution. The Industrial revolution created enormous opportunities for the people. Everyone had his or her own work, doing the exact same things day in and day out. As Thoreau stated, "He has no time to be anything but a machine"(3). He argued that excess possessions not only required excess labor to purchase them but also disturbed the people spiritually with worry and constraint. As people supposed that they need to own things, this need forces them to devote all their time to labor, and the result is the loss of touch with their inner selves and also nature. He believed that people did not know the true meaning of life. That was why Thoreau voluntarily went to live in Walden Pond for two years. He discovered that a relatively small amount of work was required to sustain oneself. Therefore, he encouraged people to do the same, and that was to lead a simple life. Since less work was required; people had more time to appreciate nature and thus enjoyed a happier life.
Thoreau was very doubtful of the ideas that outward improvements could bring improvements to one's inner peace. One clear illustration of Thoreau's resistance to progress can be found in the chapter, "Sounds," where he voiced his criticism on technological advancements. At first he was annoyed with the sound created by the passing trains which hindered his ability to hear the chirping of the birds. As he stated, " The whistle of the locomotive penetrates my woods summer and winter, sounding like the scream of a hawk sailing over some farmer's yard, informing me that many restless city merchants are arriving within the circle of the town..."(78). Trains also reminded him of the businessman and tradesman involved in manipulation and profits. Thoreau believed that a technological advancement such as the...