Second Opinion Essay

874 WordsJul 30, 20084 Pages
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 askew. As one reads Wilson’s letter, the structure leads off many unanticipated scientific ideas that also come as unnecessary. From the very first line of the essay, Wilson’s ethos is subject to question as he addresses Thoreau in an odd sort of familiar style to try and draw the reader in. 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

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