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Thoreau's Experiment

The goal of Thoreau’s experiment was to show that even though people think they feel alive, they are not fully alive. In order to conduct the experiment to his fullest, he moved into the woods and started a life, away from civilization. He believed that a person needs to break away from their “reality? and open their eyes for the first time. To an average person, to live a full life was to get an education, get married, start a family and get a good job. This seems like the ideal way to live life to nearly everyone. However, the purpose of the experiment was to prove that using only the essential, a person can live life to the fullest and finally open their eyes. Why use the woods as a place to live his life? Thoreau states in Walden? that "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life.?

Learning to appreciate everything was very important to him. An example would be the chapter Reading. He talk about reading a book as detailed as the writer did. To be able to understand the intent and the point the author was trying to get across would cause a person to better understand and enjoy reading. This concept is applied to a much bigger picture. By living in the woods, it would give him the understanding of what he feels is important in life, allowing for him to open up his eyes and be able to live a happier and understanding life. The intent was to tell the world that each and every person should not have to live by the standard put in place by society.

The following link is to a historical page about the life of Thoreau and includes a section of the years he lived in the woods:


I like the reference to the beginning of the "reading" chapter. Behind any work is a deeper level that few bother to look for. Even a masterful piece of writing cannot apporach the depth and intricacy of nature. It's as though Thoreau wanted to undertake the ultimate excercise in close reading. The parallels you discussed between the analysis of a great book and the deep study of nature is a great point and probably among the main reasons why Thoreau chose the woods.

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