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Literature: Civil War

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Sounds Personification “Commerce is unexpectedly confident and serene, alert,
adventurous and unwearied.” (84) Through the personification of commerce
Thoreau is able to show that commerce fluctuates in the same manner as humanity.
The adjectives he uses to describe commerce show that commerce has some of the
same tendencies as humans, and Thoreau believes that it is these tendencies that
make commerce so successful. Chapter 5: Solitude Allusion “who keeps himself
more secret than ever did Goffe or Whalley.” (96) Thoreau is making a
historical allusion to William Goffe and Edward Whalley who were English
regicides during the English civil war. They were signers of the death warrant
for Charles I then after his Restoration in 1660 they fled to America for a life
of seclusion in Hadley, Massachusetts. The use of this allusion contributes to
Thoreau’s style because it expresses the remarkable secrecy and remoteness of
the old settler’s life. This also shows the contrasts in this man because
Thoreau says he is “most wise and humorous” (96) but also discusses his
almost anti-social tendencies. Chapter 7: Visitors Hyperbole “speech is for
the convenience of those who are hard of hearing” (98) In this hyperbole
Thoreau is exaggerating his proposition that silence and space are effective
tools for communication. Thoreau believes that “big thoughts in big words”
(98) have to “run a course or two”(98) before comprehension is truly
possible. For Thoreau, the best conversations travel through space and silence.
The exaggeration that speech is a convenience for the hard of hearing is a
hyperbole because that would be an impossible situation. He uses this hyperbole
to show that humanity places too much emphasis on speech. For Thoreau, speech is
more important to those who are hard of hearing than silence will ever be to the
average person. Chapter 9: The Village Metonymy “perhaps my body would find
its way home if its master should forsake it.” (117) Thoreau uses the word
“master” as a substitute for the word “I.” “Master” logically
connects to Thoreau’s mind or intuition. Thoreau has no difficulty using the
word “I” in other parts of Walden , but he uses “master” here because in
this situation his mind is separate from his body. Therefore, the full “I”
cannot exist because Thoreau’s mind and body are so connected. Chapter 12:
Higher Laws Pun “I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human
race, in its gradual improvement to leave off eating animals.” (147-148) By
using the words “leave off” Thoreau creates a paronomasia pun because
“leave off” has a similar structure to “live off.” This creates the
effect that to “leave off” eating animals , in reality, is an absurd
suggestion because humans must “live off” eating animals. Chapter 12: Brute
Neighbors Metaphor “Suddenly your adversary’s checker disappears beneath the
board, and the problem is to place yours nearest to where his will appear
again.” (159) Thoreau uses the metaphor of the checker board to provide a more
familiar example for his readers in the description of a game he played with a
loon. This metaphor gives the effect that people often find themselves in
unexpected situations, and they may never suspect their adversary to “play”
so well. Chapter 17: The Pond in Winter Extended Metaphor “the long lost
bottom of Walden Pond” (191) Thoreau uses the bottomless aspect of Walden Pond
to illustrate many different points. By using the pond as a metaphor Thoreau
shows his readers that stories are often without foundation, like the pond. He
also says, “ It is remarkable how long men will believe in the bottomlessness
of a pond without taking the trouble to sound it.” (191) Using this metaphor
for the pond and society, Thoreau tells his readers that they should investigate
and not draw rapid conclusions because the depth of any aspect of society can
not be known until it undergoes a thorough investigation. Furthermore, Thoreau
says, “What if all ponds were made shallow? Would it not react the minds of
men? I am thankful that this pond was made deep and pure for a symbol. While men
believe in the infinite some ponds will be thought to be bottomless.” (191) In
this passage Thoreau tells the reader that he is using the bottomlessness of the
pond as a metaphor for society. He makes the point that society will invent its
own circumstances to remain inquisitive in an infinite search for truth. Chapter
19: Conclusion Paradox “the dead dry life of society” (221) Thoreau creates
a paradox by using the adjective “dead” to describe life. This is a paradox
because life is impossible if one is dead. Thoreau expresses his attitude about
materialistic societies in this paradox. Life has become so trivial that, in
effect, any hope of a “real,” meaningful life is dead. Chapter 19:
Conclusion Simile “The life in us is like the water in the river.” (221) For
Thoreau, life may be similar to the water in the river, because it flows over
anything in its path, it babbles or communicates with everything it meets,
follows many different directions, continually has something to keep it
connected, or on a transcendental level, it would have no clear beginning or
end. Thoreau uses this simile to achieve a philosophic effect and as the
beginning of a metaphor.
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