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Thoreau's style in Walden is lucid, simply wrought, and unpretentious. It is told by a credible and forthright first person narrator who seeks to give the truth of his experience at Walden Pond.
The purpose of the book, with its theme of "finding truth about oneself," is meant to inspire and motivate the reader to reach for a higher level of existence. Thoreau's descriptions of the natural world in which he is living is rich with images, metaphors, symbols, and comparisons. He seeks to capture the spirit of Nature in its completeness. Since the chapters are somewhat chronological, he structures the book around the cyclical pattern of the seasons. Arriving in the fullness of summer, he watches autumn color the trees, winter blanket the landscape in white, and spring burst forth in vibrant hues of green.
Thoreau was a self-conscious crafter of the written word; it took him almost a decade to finish the text of Walden; in fact, he worked on it to such a degree that he believed that not one sentence was interchangeable or easily omitted. While it is tightly crafted, it also has the ease of conversation; Thoreau speaks to his reader on a personal level, rarely making himself seem superior to the common man.
In the opening pages of Walden, Thoreau writes:
"There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers. To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtler thoughts, not even to found a school, but so to love wisdom as to live a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but also practically."
Thoreau goes to stay at Walden Pond in order to live practically and simply and in the process find out more about Nature and himself. In the end, he chooses to write about his experiences at Walden, for he knows himself as a subject better than he knows anything else.
Thoreau was a natural philosopher, influenced by transcendentalism. Believing that all of life is a continuum, he saw in Nature the over-soul that unites all living things into oneness. In contrast to his peer and fellow Transcendentalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thoreau chose to practice what he preached by going to live at Walden Pond. While there, Thoreau devoted his time to seeking truth and finding a higher level of existence.
Thoreau had a simple, positive, and optimistic view of life and brought Transcendentalism down to earth. He looked beyond what was known and visible in Nature, to find a new depth of meaning. He best expressed his thoughts on Transcendentalism through the spiritual bond he felt with the natural world: "Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moors and pine-trees. ... It is the living spirit of tree, not its spirit of turpentine, with which I sympathize and which heals my cut. It is as immortal as I am, and perchance will go to as high a heaven, there to tower above me still."