Talk:The Atlantic Monthly/Volume 9/Number 56/Walking

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In his essay on Walking, Henry David Thoreau encourages the exploration and preservation of Nature by all able people. He believes that walking through fields and forests not only provides mobility of the body, but also freedom of the mind and soul. He uses powerful arguments to make people realize the beauty and wonder of the natural world. Thoreau’s compelling language makes a strong point to the instinct of restlessness in modern man, but Thoreau deviates from his primary thesis. Thoreau begins his essay by describing walking as a noble, almost holy, crusade. Saunterers he regards as part of a select group requiring only leisure and freedom. Thoreau also emphasizes the possible health benefits of perambulation with the fresh air and exercise. He denigrates all those who do not partake of the glory and adventure of wandering, commenting on the “moral insensibility, of my neighbours who confine themselves to shops and offices the whole day for weeks and months.” Thoreau venerates the wilderness as exciting, inspirational, beautiful, free, and good. He claims that “Wildness is the preservation of the World” and thus it must be protected. Therefore, he reviles the expansion and development of civilization, which he calls a sinister and evil encroachment and enclosure of Nature and its wild landscapes. Thoreau uses strong diction in his arguments to try to convince people to protect forests and meadows and explore their beauty. However, he gets distracted from his main points and digresses into rambling poems and musings on such things as Latin word roots and the meanings of names. These tangents Thoreau takes confuse the reader as to his real intent, making the overall effect of the essay less than his goal. Nonetheless, Thoreau presents an intense and passionate case, including many of his own personal experiences and journeys through glade and glen, in support of the wildness and freedom of Nature.