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Thoreau, Into the Wild Comparison

  • Date Submitted: 03/05/2013 04:39 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.3 
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Into the Wild essay
It’s not rare for people to romanticize nature and its simplicity. History shows that man, often perplexed and worn of the complications of human society will often seek refuge in nature as a way to achieve a simple happiness that that living in everyday, human society can not bring them. A modern day example of this is Chris McCandless who, in 1990, set fourth on a three-year journey across North America on his own, living on almost nothing. Unfortunately Chris’ journey came to a tragic end when he was found dead of starvation in the Alaskan brush. Though tragic, Chris’ journey caught the attention of many and became the subject of Jon Krakauer’s 1996 novel Into the Wild. However interesting Chris’ story is, many of his quest for simplicity and true happiness is not the first of its kind, as he was in many ways following in the footsteps of the leaders of the transcendentalist movement that took place almost two hundred years ago. At the forefront if the 19th century transcendentalist movement was Henry David Thoreau, a Harvard graduate that lived who lived his life by many of the same values that Chris carried in his travels. One particular similarity in the lives of McCandless and Thoreau was their attempts to escape society through nature.
The similarities between Thoreau and McCandless start with their origins. Both Thoreau and McCandless came for very respectable sections of society. Thoreau had shown brilliance as a young boy and was on a path toward a great future studying at Harvard University but would remain unemployed for the majority of his life. Similarly, McCandless’ family was fairly wealthy, and had just graduated from Emory University in Atlanta when he embarked on his travels. Chris’ departure, though carefully planned shocked his family as he had purposely led his parents to believe he was prepared to come home just before leaving and cutting all ties with his former life and disappearing. Both men left their expected paths...


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