Economy Literary Reflection
What you want isn’t always what you need
The truth can be difficult. In English class, we are reading Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, more specifically the first chapter, “Economy.” In this chapter, Thoreau made me think deeply about how, as human beings, we often get our wants and needs mixed up. Thoreau may have been writing in the 1800’s, but all of the things that he talks about are still relevant today. People, including me, continue to buy the most expensive clothes and the fanciest houses. I agree with what Thoreau is saying, and he made me think about why I wear what I wear and live where I live.
In this part of the chapter “Economy”, Thoreau talks about the things that we really need in life and the difference between need and want. He starts the chapter by talking about clothes, and how there is no need for fancy or expensive clothes. Thoreau warns us to, “Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.” Society has a misconception that clothes make you who you are, and you must have nice clothes to make a good impression. You must always beware of places you work, or anything else, that requires you to change your appearance, because they might not understand that your appearance is less important than your personality. A second point that Thoreau made is that we do not need fancy and expensive houses, and “the cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it.” Thoreau brings up the important question of whether you want to exchange more of your life for an expensive house, or whether you would want a less expensive house that works just as well. People are too focused on having the bigger house, or the nicer possessions, that they lose sight of what really matters in life.
Thoreau pointed out many things that were wrong in his time that are still relevant issues now, and I agree with many of the points that he made. He pointed out that “Most men appear never to have considered what a house is, and are actually though needlessly poor all their lives because they think that they must have such a one as their neighbors have.” You don’t need all of the newest and fanciest things to live a good life. It is what is inside that matters. I had always kind of new this fact, but I had never thought about it deeply until reading Thoreau. He made me think whether or not I even need the clothes that I am wearing, and what the cost was to my parents of me having clothes. Thoreau may be from a time far before us, but he brings up things that even I can relate to as a 15 year old boy.
What cost are you willing to pay?