What words of wisdom does Walden offer regarding owning property or land?Walden by Henry David Thoreau

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In "Economy" Part II, Henry David Thoreau writes,

Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.

Thoreau states that the farmer who gets his house may not be richer, but poorer, for having obtained it.  For, he must work constantly in order to pay for repairs on the house, furniture, etc. The amassment of property makes one's life too difficult, too complicated, Thoreau states.  It is better to have very little, then one is free because the more that a person has, the more he is owned by this property.  With a wealthy home, the owner must worry about its upkeep; he must worry that someone may wish to break into his home and rob him. But, the man who has a simple place has the freedom to enjoy nature and life. Yet, Thoreau writes,

Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.

Instead of trying to amass so many material things, Thoreau continues, people should learn to be content with less.

These perspectives of Thoreau point to his theme of simplification.  Building his own home for twenty-eight dollars and twelve and one-half cents, Thoreau writes that he picks up used furniture and is content with it.

Without the burden of ownership, a man will have the time to be content with what he has, enjoy life, and be much happier.

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