Society has long been concerned about the problem of freedom. Does an individual have freedom? Can a person be self-sufficient in his or her actions and behavior? These issues are extremely important for everyone. The fundamental value of freedom, in the variety of its forms, is one of the cornerstones of civilization. In general, freedom is understood as the presence of the capacity for maximum self-expression and liberation from the conventions. It is one of the main and most difficult philosophical categories, which determines the human nature, which consists of the ability to think and act in accordance with person's intentions, desires, and interests, and not as the result of coercion. This essay focuses on different connotations and forms of the concept of freedom. Henry David Thoreau’s use of the word “freedom” in his work Walking, is compared to Rebecca Solnit’s meaning of it in her essay Walking after Midnight. It examine’s how these two essays present walking as an act of freedom, and how True liberation can be found only in wilderness of nature through walking. Every human, being a part of nature, has to perceive this freedom.
Henry David Thoreau declared that freedom is one of the main values of nature. According to this philosopher and naturalist, nature is unusually free and this freedom is a part of it. While walking, he can clearly feel the presence of something akin—understanding of human connection with nature. Wildlife, according to Thoreau, is not a stranger who will conquer, not a resource for exploitation, but wildlife is the eternal source of life and total freedom. In his piece/essay/paper Walking, he speaks about the wildlife as the moral essence—valuable for its freedom.
The concept “wildlife” is closely linked to freedom and independence. One of the definitions of the world “wildlife” is self-regulating, self-developing, and independent habitat of animals and plants. This is a space that remains unmodified by people, located in a willful, self-defined, self-ordering, uncontrolled state. Wildlife exists by itself and for itself. This concept comes from the ancient Celtic expression that means independent, autonomous land. Wildlife is free from all sorts of human colonization. By its definition, it has to be wild and free. This is its main physical characteristic. The concept “wild” carries connotations of disorder and violations of the laws, as every order he right to freedom. Wildlife is a land with its own will.
For Thoreau, all good things must be wild and free.Thoreau was one of the first who has began to call for ecological sabotage. he suggested to break the dams on the rivers that prevent the fish spawn. The philosopher believed that natural law should be put above legal. In other words, national law cannot prohibit the moral right of any organism to exist. Any humane person who came out of thoughtless boyish age, will not kill a living being, which was granted the same life. Thoreau wanted people to reject social norms if they do any harm to nature. By the freedom of wildlife, Thoreau meant self-management and autonomy, which is the existence of nature in its natural state, non-domesticated, uncultured, uncivilized, naughty, rude, stormy, violent, wild, and lawless. Freedom is inextricably linked to wildness and independence from human control.
In Rebecca Solnit's essay Walking after Midnight, the concept of freedom has adifferent connotation than in Thoreau’s work. Here, the author writes not about the search of freedom in walking and observing wild nature, but about the lack of women's freedom and rights. Rebecca's use of the word “freedom” means the lack of choice, which is equivalent to some kind of slavery and violation of rights. She writes about how different civilizations and societies have been depriving women of freedom for a long time. As it was mentioned earlier, Thoreau writes, how a person may find freedom in nature, while observing and learning it with the philosophy of the walking. In contrast to this naturalist, who praises nature as a way of liberation from the constraints of society, Solnit writes that a woman, bound in chains of this society, cannot be completely free. Speaking about the philosophy of walking, a woman, even in modern society cannot freely and safely walk out after midnight; it is impossible for her to enjoy walking or traveling alone because she is exposed to various hazards, up to the condemnation of the society, which considers her a prostitute.
In her essay, Rebecca cites Sylvia Plath, who says that to be born a woman is a terrible tragedy. Sylvia has always felt an overwhelming desire to travel with the strollers, sailors, and soldiers, to be part of every event; an anonymous listener and observer. However, all her dreams have been poisoned by the fact that she is a woman, and a female creature is in constant danger of physical and sexual aggression. Her great interest, of men and their lives, has been mistaken for the desire to seduce them or for an invitation to intimacy. Sincere women have always wanted to be able to sleep in the open field, to travel to the West, to walk freely at night, and finally, just to be free.
Many women are brought up in the belief that a woman's place is at home,and Such women often feel socially isolatedfor centuries, In traditional and some modern societies, women have been eliminated from public life and government sectors of society andin different civilizations, women have been deprived of the desired freedom. The author gives an example of life of women in ancient Greece. There was a patriarchal system of social order, in which women belonged to the category of the dependent population. And even today, discrimination against female half of the population can be often witnessed.
It is important to conclude that Henry David Thoreau's use of such concept as “freedom” refers to the wild nature, while Rebecca Solnit's use of this word means the liberty for women, their choices, and rights. However, this concept means almost the same in both contexts, as in general, freedom is the absence of external coercion and control, imposed by the Society. Wildlife has the ability to act in accordance with its own will, without any restrictions, interests, and goals. The human beings also need to have this essential natural freedom of choice, the ability to act as they want, and to enjoy these rights. Every human being, as a piece of nature, inherently should be free. But civilization has imposed other laws on a person. In both essays, Walking by Thoreau and Walking after Midnight by Solnit, a reader can feel one similar idea that the authors wanted to convey: they both wrote about the desire of freedom. Of course, these works have some variations. Thoreau writes about nature preservation and the freedom, which is possible to feel while walking, for example, in the forest. Rebecca Solnit's essay carries the theme of women's freedom and rights. But anyway, both essays convey deep sociological expectations; it is possible to notice one common and essential topic in both of them: the freedom of wildlife and of people have unbreakable bonds. It is impossible to protect the freedom in human society, suppressing it in nature. civilization has always wanted to tame and consciously or unconsciously destroy the wildlife, as well as deprive women of their freedom and natural rights. However, being free, wild nature, itself has the values of freedom; as well as every person, being a part of nature, has to feel necessary freedom.