The Norms of Society in Henry David Thoreau’s Writing "Walden"

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653 words

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One is so completely consumed in his own world that he becomes ignorant to the rut he has fallen into, a rut known as conformity. He or she craves materialistic possessions as if he were a drug addict. The endless pursuit of the next best thing creates a pace which one will never be able to keep. As much as one tries to reach the top, the peak they desire to reach is never to be found.

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In Henry David Thoreau’s writing Walden he makes his disgust of how blindly people choose to follow the norms of society explicitly clear. Thoreau's firm belief in the freedom gained through self reliance is made very straightforward by his outright refusal to live by and accept the standards by which modern society lives.

Thoreau frowns on the the everyday individuals lust for wealth and status. Just when one thought the landscape of American society couldn’t get any worse the people of this country have been consumed by a whole new era of technology. This isn’t the first time this has happened to our nation (or the world), and it certainly won’t be the last. This essay will analyze how deeply damaged the heart of our once great country has become, and will end in discussion of the impacts of the desires of the American people. No matter what one tells themselves they have desires, they have wants, and they have aspirations.

Everyone wants something, there’s no way around that. In today’s society almost everything can be bought for the right price. That rush to fulfill one’s desires drives the hustle and bustle of the American economy, and society. Progress they call it as they work to reach the top, but what progress have they really made beyond that of what society deems worthwhile? What progress has one made, “rather than love, than money, than fame.” What do these materialistic objects really do for someone if they do not have an understanding of themselves? It is worth wasting away a lifetime to reach the pinnacle of society's demands? What if instead, “every morning was a cheerful invitation to make (one’s) life of equal simplicity?” One could better spend time chasing goals that in the end are far more meaningful.

However in order to achieve this pursuit, we must aim for “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity.” With a newfound understanding for simplicity one can “endeavor to live the life which he (or she) has imagined,” for themselves, a life which is far beyond days spent trying to work for everything society made one believe was worth their time. The only thing worse than this lust for status is the platforms that perpetuate that same drive for wealth, fame, and power. These multi billion dollar companies that pretend to connect society, Facebook, Google, and so many other companies alike. Tech corporations are just the tip of the iceberg. This lust extends into name brands such as Nike, Apple, Gucci, and so many others. Society looks up to those who can afford the next iPhone, the next pair of shoes, the next fashion trend, or the next big thing whatever it may be.

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These are the people society looks up to but if one would take a moment to think as Thoreau did, “the wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor.” Thoreau continues by saying, “none can be an impartial or wise observer of human life but from the vantage ground of what we should call voluntary poverty.” The wisest people are the ones who see the world like everyone else. They see the world as its meant to be, as the poor see it, not because they have to, but because they can. In time one will see “a man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” Wealth doesn’t come from money, it comes from experience.

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The Norms Of Society In Henry David Thoreau’S Writing “Walden”. (2020, January 15). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from
“The Norms Of Society In Henry David Thoreau’S Writing “Walden”.” GradesFixer, 15 Jan. 2020,
The Norms Of Society In Henry David Thoreau’S Writing “Walden”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 28 Sept. 2023].
The Norms Of Society In Henry David Thoreau’S Writing “Walden” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Jan 15 [cited 2023 Sept 28]. Available from:
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