Lesson 135. Was Thoreau dependent on the division of labor while he was living on Walden Pond?


In this essay I will be discussing and answering the question, Was Thoreau dependent on the division of labor while he was living on Walden Pond?


Before we look at answering the essay question, I think it would be important if we established who Thoreau was and how he relates to the question.

Henry David Thoreau was a man that lived in the mid 1800s in North America. He is known for his book, Walden, in which he explains his views of economy and society. He was a “green” or a “back to nature” person, which is why he lived in the wild by Walden pond for two years. It was there that he first started to write and compile ideas into a book. Today, the book has been dubbed as one of the greatest American literary works, which, quite frankly, it is not.
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Now that we have some background, it is time to discuss and answer the essay question. To begin, let us define what the division of labour is. The division of labour is a production model that breaks the production of an item into several smaller jobs so that the overall process is more efficient. Thoreau did not like the division of labour and he hated factories, but he did build his own house, so did he have to use something that went against his own philosophy?

Firstly, let us examine the section on the house. In this section, Thoreau describes how he used several different tools and materials to construct his little shack. One of the items he used though, that stood out to me,was nails. Nails are difficult to manufacture by oneself and considering how easily and cheaply they were (and still are) manufactured in larger workplaces, it is a waste of time to make them by yourself.

I think, then, that using nails is one example of where Thoreau contradicted himself over his beliefs regarding the division of labour. The nails he used where most likely created in some sort of factory, which means that he profited from the usage of the division of labour.

That is just one example of many where Thoreau contradicted himself. He tried to escape the modern world, but in doing so took with him items and ideas that were created by the industrial age in North America.


To summarise and conclude the paper, today’s essay was on Henry David Thoreau and wether he was dependent on the division of labour or not. Thoreau was actually dead set against the division of labour, yet he used items, such as nails, which were actually created by the division of labour. There are also many other instances in which Thoreau contradicts himself in his autobiography.


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