Throughout the first chapter of Walden, "Economy", Thoreau states his justifications for leaving society behind in an attempt to show people that life can be lived with bare necessities and still be wholesome. Thoreau claims that his attempt at Walden Pond is nothing more than a two-year experiment that tries to illustrate the benefits of living a simplified life. He specifically tells us what things he was trying to leave behind and why he chose to leave those things with society. In order to better understand Thoreau's disposition to society and inclination to simplicity we must look closer at the point he was trying to convey to the townsfolk of Concord, Massachusetts. In this paper I hope to discuss Thoreau's perspective on simplicity throughout Walden, but more specifically I will be focusing on his first chapter "Economy".
In the first part of "Economy" we see that Thoreau is already riled up about inheritances; especially relating to homes, farms, livestock etcetera. He sees these as curse rather than gift and states, " These are more easily acquired than gotten rid of" (Thoreau 5). What Thoreau means by this, is that if you inherit a farm, livestock or in modern times, a business, you become a slave to inheritances and spend your life laboring over and trying to acquire false necessities. Due to this, Thoreau closely relates inheritances to work and labor in the sense that inheritances provoke extensive labor. It is not the so much the concept of labor that he doesn't like; because Thoreau himself built a house from scratch, but the fact that people will become labor intensive for things that are unnecessary. In some cases this could be taken as a loss of freedom due to the fact that even though people are striving for what they think are necessities, which are really luxuries, they are forever constrained to the parameters of what they have been given.