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Thoreau's Essay on Friendship

Henry David Thoreau wrote the essay entitled "On Friendship." Thoreau was one of America's greatest naturalists and wrote on that and other subjects in nineteenth century. He was one of the New England writers, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson and others, who subscribed to aspects of the philosophy of Transcendentalism.

Friendship: The entire essay is a consideration of friendship and its meanings, and yet from the first it is assumed that the reader will have some concept of friendship as a relationship between two people that extends beyond acquaintance and that involves nobility.

Love: An emotional relationship such that it can drive one to distraction when considering the object of that love, and Thoreau says this is not commonly found in friendship. Love that might apply is love that lets us stand in true relation to a friend.

Understood relation: Also not friendship, for an understood relation involves demands and expectations, which friendship does not.

Thoreau begins by musing on the meaning of Friendship as something we all seem to grasp intuitively but whose parameters and deeper meanings we have not considered.

His method is logical and analytical. He first considers some of the effects Friendship has on the thinking of individuals and then uses his own logic to trace those meanings back to the "thing" that caused them, to Friendship.

He asks what it is that is commonly honored with the name of Friendship. He considers the power of Friendship and the way it can heal ills in the world. He considers the nature of Friendship when compared to love. He considers the nature of people who are friends to one another. He examines the language of Friendship. He considers the demands of Friendship. in this way, Thoreau thinks analytically about each of the elements of Friendship, leading his argument to a conclusion.

The main point of Thoreau's argument is that Friendship exists and that its na...

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Thoreau's Essay on Friendship. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 08:20, February 18, 2019, from