Letter To Walden Rhetorical Analysis

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In today’s world, it is common that we gain second opinions for every decision made, so as to not fall prey to mistakes in interpretation in diagnosis, literary ideas, etc. Edward O. Wilson, scientist extraordinaire, has seemingly gone to Walden Pond to reflect, and to retain for himself, a second opinion on conservation originally set by Henry David Thoreau. In his essay “A Letter to Thoreau”, Wilson attempts, as a biologist, to identify and communicate with Thoreau and his conservationalist ideas. Wilson very quickly reveals that his experiences at Walden were different as he refutes and ignores much of what Thoreau writes. However, his confusing relationship with Thoreau, scientific style, and lack of structure place throw his reasoning…show more content…
However genuine it seems to “call [Thoreau] by [his] Christian name,” I notice a slight tone of sarcasm (Wilson 284). It being early in the essay one reads on, allowing himself to believe it is a legitimate adoration of Thoreau. Wilson gives reason to believe that he “came [to Walden] because of [Thoreau’s] stature in literature and the conservation movement, but also – less nobly, [he confesses] – because [his] home is in Lexington, two towns over” (Wilson 284). Whether or not this is meant to be playful is unclear to the reader. Personally, I think this sets a tone for the rest of the essay that Wilson is only writing to Thoreau because it is convenient for him to throw in his scientific “two cents” as in an otherwise unrelated subject. Thoreau’s ideas from Walden Pond are not something that Wilson has any strong affinity for. Therefore this one quotation combats the idea that there is any true emotional tie to Thoreau seeing as they have been separated by over 150 years. Moreover, this affects the rest of the essay so that the reader might identify it as a…show more content…
From the tangents at the opening of the text to the tangent at the closing, Wilson’s ideas are difficult to follow. As a reader, one is unsure weather to focus on the “wolf spider” or “as [he] wrote in 2001, Biodiversity Days” or even his wonderful forecasting of the end of the world (Wilson 287, 89). His thought process from one subject to another holds no apparent stock in his arguments of Thoreau. One might be able to conclude – only at the very closing – that Wilson brings together all the issues we face as a race as, to be due to the fact that there are simply too many of us. Conservation is finally apparent as his reason for writing to Thoreau, though the reader gains no hope for a change as according to Wilson our lives are “insoluble problems” (Wilson 292). We will never see change in our time and consequently are doomed to die of our own accord having killed the planet. It’s a lovely ending to a lovely essay I must say. Overall, Wilson demonstrates a valiant attempt to become an authority on conservation. Biologically speaking, he is well equipped with myriad facts about this planet and our direct effect on it. However, from Thoreau’s romantic style Wilson falls short of successfully critiquing Thoreau’s ideas from Walden Pond. Confusing satire, unneeded scientific language, and the lack of focused structure make this essay, in essence, hard to fallow. Perhaps our friend Edward Wilson should further
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