1. The United States was undergoing a period of great change during Thoreau’s lifetime. With the Civil War looming, Thoreau was uneasy with the direction of the United States. Explain the following statement using examples from the text: Walden is a response to “the runaway train of nineteenth-century growth, industrialization, mass agriculture, and capitalist values”.
2. We began our exploration of Thoreau with a brief discussion on Transcendentalism. Using examples from the text, argue for or against the following statement: Walden is an application of Transcendental philosophy. In other words, Walden is best described as a work of Transcendentalism. If you are arguing in favor of the above statement, you will need to examine selections from the text (aka assertions) that support your claim, or vice versa.
3. Ralph Waldo Emerson, author of Self-Reliance, is considered an influential figure in the writings of Henry David Thoreau. Compare and contrast the main ideas of Self-Reliance and Walden. Can you find any evidence of Emerson’s influence in Thoreau’s writing? If you find that such evidence does not exist in Walden, you must provide counterexamples. You must support your response with examples from both texts (this means you’ll want to bring a printed copy of Self-Reliance to class on the day of the exam as computers will not be allowed).
All students should research responses prior to the date of the exam.