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Walden

by Henry David Thoreau
400 pages, Biography/History
Reviewed by Jeanne

Lovely descriptive passages, but full of unbiblical Utopian philosophy.

Plot

Thoreau's autobiographical account of his two-year (1845-1847) stay in a cabin beside Walden Lake. It deals with the practicalities of his life there, but also his thoughts on life, society, and the Utopian philosophy of the times.

Morality

Thoreau does not really touch upon morality. His philosophy is rather based upon a pragmatic (although highly impractical) view of how to live and enjoy living; there is no delineated right and wrong.

Spiritual Content

Thoreau was a Transcendentalist, like many in his time, and so while he mentions God, he does not do so from an evangelical Christian standpoint. He talks about Providence and once discusses the eternal and unchanging nature of God in reference to the changeableness, for good or ill, of mankind. He also takes a very spiritual view of nature.

Violence

The killing of animals for food is mentioned.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Thoreau believes that all drinks besides pure water are dangerous - including such harmless drinks as tea - and prides himself on drinking only water.

Sexual Content

None.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

When Thoreau's writing is based upon describing the land around his self-made cabin and Walden Lake, he paints a lovely picture of nature. When he moves on from there into philosophy, he depicts an unbelievable and impractical Utopian way of life. He famously admonishes Americans to live simply, and in one section relates a discussion he had with a farmer who was struggling to provide for his family; Thoreau informed this man that life can be lived more easily if only the farmer went without such things as sugar, etc. Progress is depicted as undesirable, and hard labor to provide for oneself and one's family is not encouraged, but rather discouraged. Thoreau's whole paradigm as written in "Walden" is one of laziness, although he calls it simplicity, and impossibilities, which he claims to make life better.

Fun Score: 2
Values Score: 2
Written for Age: adult

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