How did Henry David Thoreau's solitary living experiment influence his perspective of society?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Essentially, Thoreau wanted to see if he could live extremely simply in order to have the freedom, mentally and financially, to pursue the things that were of real interest to him. Most of  Walden  shows what these things were. He devotes his time to reading, writing, thinking, and communing with nature. He proves to himself that a man needs very few material things to be content. This successful experiment in living influences his perspective on society. He sees that most people work too hard and have nothing to show for it. One of his most famous quotes is: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Another famous quote is: "Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!" Taken together, these two quotes express a great deal about his philosophy.

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