Provide examples of simile and personification in Walden.

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Walden Henry David Thoreau uses both personification and simile. He uses personification to give things of nature human qualities while he creates comparisons with similes to provide the reader with imagery.

At the beginning of chapter 5, “Solitude,” Thoreau is describing the wind and the surface of the lake as night comes upon it. He uses a simile to make comparisons that create visual imagery.

Sympathy with the fluttering alder and poplar leaves almost takes away my breath; yet, like the lake, my serenity is rippled but not ruffled. These small waves raised by the evening wind are as remote from storm as the smooth reflecting surface.

The wind is raising small waves, “ripples,” on the surface of the lake and Thoreau likens his peacefulness to those small waves. The surface of the water indicates that there are no storms kicking up the water instead there is simply a gentle breeze in the trees that is not threatening to his well-being, his “serenity.”

In Chapter 7, “The Bean-Field” Thoreau personifies his bean plants.

Meanwhile my beans, the length of whose rows, added together, was seven miles already planted, were impatient to be hoed, for the earliest had grown considerably before the latest were in the ground; indeed they were not easily to be put off.

By saying his beans were “impatient” he is giving the plants a human quality that means the plants need tending immediately because they grew so quickly. As he continues his statement, he again personifies the plants saying they could not be “put off.” In other words, he could not ignore them; he needs to take care of them so they grow properly.

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