9th Grade English
Walden Ch. 2 Literary Analysis
A Journey Into The Mind of Thoreau
“I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion."
-Henry David Thoreau
A life is not lived entirely unless it is lived to its fullest extent. Thoreau strongly believed in living life in its entirety. He did not want to let his life go to waste by constantly worrying about the future, he wanted to make the most of it. Thoreau teaches us how to live with purpose, and to "suck all the marrow out of life". In the second chapter of the literary masterpiece Walden by Henry David Thoreau, Thoreau passionately insists that life must be lived to its fullest extent, otherwise it is wasted.
In Where I Lived, And What I Lived For, Thoreau takes his readers on a philosophical journey into his mind. One of the main points he emphasizes is how life must be experienced fully, for too often it is wasted. Many people live their entire life working towards a goal, usually financial, and when they finally reach it, they are have too little life left to enjoy it. They spend their days in constant labor, and end their life in regret. Thoreau decided to overcome this obstacle by living in the moment. He strived to make the most of every day and live life to its fullest.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
This quote is a perfect example of how people live their lives in despair, and, at the end of their life, regret it. Thoreau proved that by living in the moment and "sucking the marrow out of life", one can live their life to the fullest extent. Further in the chapter, Thoreau digs even deeper into what it means to live a full life.
In order to be happy, one mustn't lose themselves in the details. In Where I Lived, And What I Lived For, Thoreau argues that people must not get caught up in small everyday drama, but instead, took at the larger scheme of things. Far too often, people get caught up in the little things. For example, fretting over a mid-year exam. At the time, an exam may seem like the most important thing you've ever done. However, if you look at the impact it will have on the universe, or possibly even your own life, you will realize the insignificance of it.
“Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito's wing that falls on the rails. Let us rise early and fast, or break fast, gently and without perturbation; let company come and let company go, let the bells ring and the children cry- determined to make a day of it.”
People must let go of the illusion of control. As humans, it is in our nature to be in control of as many little things as possible. However, we can't truly control anything, not even the course of our own life. Therefore, it is impossible for us to have control of everything that comes in our way. In this quote, Thoreau is basically saying "go with the flow". If we attempt to micromanage and control everything that we come across, we will loose sight in what's important and instead loose ourself in the unimportant. Let life take its course, do not try to manipulate it. Like Thoreau said, "let the bells ring and the children cry".
One must live life to its fullest in order to be happy. When I learned to live fully, I was changed forever. I learned to live deliberately, and not to get caught up in unimportant details of life. Reading Where I Lived, and What I Lived For had a profound impact on me. In this chapter, Thoreau digs much deeper into what it means to truly live a well lived life. Never before had I thought about what it truly means to live life to its fullest extent. I had heard the phrase muttered here and there, but it never occurred to me to think about what it actually meant. Before reading this chapter, I would have considered anyone who reached a goal of success to have made the most of life. However, Thoreau argued that living life fully was much more than just becoming successful. To live life to its fullest extent, one must live deliberately, and make the most of what they are given. They must make the most of every moment as well as every opportunity. This philosophy was eye opening to me, and changed the way I see the world. Ever since I discovered this chapter, I have approached every day with a better attitude, as I wish to make the most of every day. Thoreau lived life to its fullest by living deliberately and disregarding the frivolous distractions that got in his way. What Thoreau wrote in Where I Lived and What I Lived For taught me many important life lessons that I will never forget.