by Henry David Thoreau



1) How does Thoreau distinguish civilized life from his life at Walden Pond? Why would he go, as he says, "to live in the woods"?

2) What does Thoreau mean when he says that we "have become the tools of [our] tools"?

3) What according to Thoreau is the proper role of art, and how does he view the art of his day?

4) What does Thoreau seek in a house? Is he proud of his house at Walden Pond? Why, or why not?

5) What is Thoreau's view of improvement and progress?

6) What for Thoreau is the purpose of reading books?

7) Thoreau advises his readers that if one "advances confidently in the direction of his dreams," he will meet with success and "more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him." What does he mean, and who does Thoreau imagine will make these laws?

8) Thoreau's observation that he "should be glad if all the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men's beginning to redeem themselves," seems like a response to Locke's theory of labor. What would Locke say to a visit to Thoreau at Walden Pond?

9) Thoreau says that he left the woods for as good a reason as he went there, thinking that he might have "several more lives to live, and could not spare any more time for that one." By the standards that he has articulated, however, what other life could be as good as that one? How would Rousseau respond to Thoreau's thought that he had "several more lives to live"?


1) Thoreau assumes that to live "Spartan-like" is to get at what is truly life? On what does he base this statement? Can life be thus "reduced to its lowest terms" and still be life?

2) Imagine that you are John Field or his wife, when Thoreau visits. Does Thoreau have anything important to say to you? Do you have anything important to say to him?)

3) What are the implications of Thoreau's essay for citizenship?

4) What would Marx find to criticize in Thoreau's life at Walden?

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