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Analysis of Conclusion of Thoreau’s Walden

Analysis of “Conclusion” of Thoreau’s Walden

The chapter entitled “Conclusion” is a fitting and compelling final chapter to Thoreau’s Walden. Throughout Walden, Thoreau delves into his surroundings, the very specifics of nature, and what he was thinking about, without employing any metaphors and including none of his poignant aphorisms. However, placed among these at-times tedious sections, come spectacular and wholly enjoyable interludes of great and profound thought from a writer that has become extremely popular in modern America. His growth of popularity over such contemporary favorites as Emerson in our modern era stems from the fact that Thoreau calls for an “ideological revolution to simplification” in our lives. This concept and sentiment is in extreme opposition to how we actually live our lives today. More and more people have been cut off from spiritual development and the cultivation of the mind and body. Often times the only time people think about their own spirituality and soul is in church or in reference to thinking about their god or religion. The truth is that there is much more to stare at, wonder at, and worship than just an image and idea of God in the mind. Thoreau, a man who believed in God himself and alludes to that being many times throughout Walden, lets us know and see that much more in the world is worthy of deep thought and reverence: all that earthly nature has to offer. Thoreau’s “Conclusion” is an excellent and fitting ending to this great work that teaches us so many things.

Deviating from the structure of the rest of the journal, the final chapter doesn’t go through intermittent periods of dry description and then bursts of savory philosophical insights–the final chapter is one lo…

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…ning star.” The first sentence in this statement presents a paradox that at least makes us see things from a different light (no pun intended), and in the second sentence Thoreau is saying that a new day comes only to those who are alive and cognizant enough to receive it. Perhaps there is not so much deep meaning as we can be tempted to fathom in Thoreau’s last four lines. It seems to me, though, a very fitting conclusion to a book that has nature and its ongoing processes at root, while using this base to build an abstract, philosophical castle in the sky. He rooted the castle’s base in the world directly around him, which he immersed himself in daily, and his concept of a supernatural force in that same world, his God.

Work Cited

Thoreau, Henry David. Walden. Walden and Other Writings by Henry David Thoreau. Ed. Joseph Wood Krutch. New York: Bantam, 2001.

Albert Camus’ Philosophy in The Plague

Albert Camus’ Philosophy in The Plague

To know ourselves diseased is half our cure. – Alexander Pope

As the title clearly suggests, the novel The Plague is, indeed, a story of disease. On the surface, the novel The Plague, may be an accounting of facts detailing the outbreak of bubonic plague in the town of Oran. But on a deeper level, it is a novel that reveals awareness and acceptance of the limits of human existence. And it is also a reminder of our absurd freedom and the choices we make in life, especially when facing death.

In writing The Plague we are told that Camus “sought to convey […] the feeling of suffocation from which we all suffered and the atmosphere of threat and exile in which we lived” (Bree, 1964:128). He was, of course, speaking of the horrors of World War II. But “at the same time [he wanted] to extend [his] interpretation to the notion of existence in general” (Bree, 1964:128).

Camus’ interpretation of existence is revealed in his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus in which he discusses the absurd and its consequences, revolt, freedom and passion. Some interesting connections can be made between the philosophical discussion in The Myth of Sisyphus and the existential themes found in The Plague. In The Myth, Camus outlines his notion of the absurd and its consequences; in The Plague he brings his philosophy to life.

This tale of life and death is told by Dr. Rieux, who maintains that his “business is only to say ‘this is what happened’, when he knows that it actually did happen, [and] that it closely affected the life of a whole populace […]” (Camus, The Plague, p.7). Of the novel, Germaine Bree says,

“considered in its totality [The Plague] transmits a personal experience …

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…, one way or another, and The Plague is a reminder of that absurd fact.

The quote at the beginning of this paper, “To know ourselves diseased is half our cure” has its relevance in the ultimate lesson we learn from The Plague. But there is another lesson to be learned and Camus reminds us of it in The Myth of Sisyphus: “the point is to live” (Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus, p.65). While facing the horrors of death, the characters in The Plague do an excellent job of bringing that philosophical point to life.

Works Cited

Bree, Germaine. (ed.), Camus: Collection of Critical Essays. Prentice-Hall: Englewood, NJ. 1962.

Camus, Albert. The Myth of Sisyphus and other essays. New York: Vintage Books, 1991.

Camus, Albert, The Plague. Vintage: NY, 1991.

Ellison, David R. Understanding Albert Camus. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1990.

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