The article “Lessons in Constructive Solitude from Thoreau” by Holland Cotter is a brilliant example of a critique of the case study in the context of the present situation. The author analyzes an episode of the life of writer Henry David Thoreau, who spent two years in voluntary isolation in a one-room cabin near Walden Pond. This self-quarantine is characterized in the article as a “constructive solitude,” an analogy to the current situation, when the whole world experiences isolation, although non-voluntary. The case of Thoreau may be an excellent lesson for the people of today; such an argument is persuasively presented in the article.
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To convince the readers, the author uses a rhetoric strategy of the detailed description of the case of Thoreau, pointing out the analogies of his situation to the present time. Thoreau, perceived by contemporary society as a weird and marginal figure, indeed had the unusual temperament, being politically radical, and uncompromisingly deep in his thought. His book “Walden; or, Life in the Woods,” which was an outcome of his contemplation in the forest, made him famous. It was a result not of superficial persuasiveness of his writing, but of the meaningful thoughts noted down during his sole observations and self-analysis.
Thoreau could make the years of solitude the time of self-education, studying a wide range of sources. The second thing he was about to learn is to immerse into nature – not as a distant observer, but as a fully engaged participant, “antennas raised.” As he wrote in his book, he could learn a lesson, which would not be possible to do within society. He was against “the noise of contemporaries,” and realized that his lonely abode was the only place, “where he could do what he could not easily do in the everyday world: namely, concentrate, focus.”
The author of the article then brings readers to today’s situation. He makes parallel with the fact that in the situation of isolation, many of the people started to do the things related to contemplation and self-examining. Besides, Cotter describes in detail Thoreau’s monument that appeared at the site of his retreat, referring to it as “an instructive emblem to contemplate, and a consoling one.” In this way, he ends his article by presenting the visual image, which may serve as a symbol for the people in today’s difficult situation, encouraging them for a genuinely philosophical approach to it.