Write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Thoreau makes to convey his message
about the value of walking in nature
In his essay "Walking," Henry David Thoreau advocates for the value of walking in nature
as a means of achieving self-discovery, spiritual growth, and a deeper connection with the
natural world. To effectively convey his message, Thoreau makes several rhetorical choices
that appeal to the reader's emotions, logic, and sense of morality.
One of Thoreau's primary rhetorical strategies is the use of vivid, sensory language to
paint a vivid picture of the natural world. He describes the sights, sounds, and smells of
the woods in intricate detail, using sensory imagery to transport the reader into the
natural environment. For example, he writes, "The woods were made for the hunters of
dreams, the brooks for the fishers of song; to the hunters of dreams the woods are full of
precious stones, and of birds with finer plumage, and of flowers with stranger fragrance
than any hothouse or garden can boast" (Thoreau). By creating a rich sensory experience
for the reader, Thoreau inspires a sense of wonder and reverence for the natural world,
encouraging readers to explore and appreciate the world around them.
Another rhetorical strategy employed by Thoreau is the use of metaphor and analogy to
convey complex ideas. He compares walking to "sauntering," a term that he suggests comes
from the French "sainte-terre," meaning "holy land." By using this metaphor, Thoreau
elevates walking to a spiritual activity, suggesting that it can lead to a sense of
transcendence and connection with the divine. He also compares the natural world to a
great library, full of wisdom and knowledge, waiting to be discovered by those who take
the time to explore it. These analogies help to clarify Thoreau's message and make it more
accessible to the reader.
Thoreau also employs rhetorical appeals to logic and reason to support his argument. He
argues that walking is essential to physical and mental health, and that modern society's
focus on productivity and efficiency has led us to neglect this vital aspect of human
experience. He writes, "The incessant anxiety and strain of some is a well-nigh incurable
form of disease. We are made to exaggerate the importance of what work we do; and yet how
much is not done by us!...We should treat ourselves as innocent and untried beings, whose
susceptibility to temptation is not to be measured by experience" (Thoreau). By using
logical appeals, Thoreau makes a convincing case for the value of walking in nature,
suggesting that it is not only enjoyable, but necessary for our well-being.