English论文模板 – A Comparison of the Literary Eco-criticism in John Burroughs’s Bird Stories from Burroughs and Thoreau’s Walden from the Perspective of the Animal Narrative


Birds are precious nature creatures that create a soothing effect on humans and are nature’s elves. Bird studies are concerned with the study of their nature, their life patterns, their behavior and the impact of birds on the human psyche. This paper tries to uncover the various aspects of birds’ and animals’ lives by comparing the two books “Birds stories by Burroughs” and “Walden; or live in the woods.” Comparing these two works highlights several behavioral elements of both birds and animals in different settings. The paper will compare the nature of both birds and animals, including their life account and their interaction with family or other species. There is a difference between animals and birds, and the sense of perceiving danger is also different, which is essential to check through proper comparison and contrast. The comparison of their life accounts will highlight the nature of birds and animals and the effect of the natural scenes on man. The Animal perspective, their way of living, and other details are significant compared with Burroughs’ other work. The paper will significantly try to analyze the two works and critically discuss the ideas about birds and animals through various perspectives induced in the books and from the observers’ point of view. The implication of the analysis is required because it assists in finding the two distinct perspectives of both the species, and it also aids in highlighting the similarities of these two biological species.

The History of American Literature

  1. Introduction

An ecosystem is where animals, plants, landscapes, weather and other organisms work together to form a life bubble. Burroughs’s book “Bird stories from Burroughs” was published in 1911. He was best known for his observations of birds, flowers, and rural scenes. However, his essay topics range from religion, literature, and philosophy. In this book, the author talks about the life of birds and depicts an accurate picture of birds’ life. He was a great nature writer, often compared with Henry David Thoreau. Burroughs gave voice to the art of simple living, and the beauty and power of nature found near the hand. The other book, Walden, or Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau was published in 1854. He was a well-known essayist, poet, and philosopher. In this book, the writer writes about the journey in which he lives a life outside of the city, near a pond and a forest, to enjoy the natural beauty. He loved trees, so he made his way towards a place near a pond. There, he spent time with nature to examine the natural environment, talk about how beautiful these things are and the things as water lilies and thought about the impact of social life on human nature.

In comparison, both the books are similar in some contexts because both are about nature and its impacts on our behaviors. Burroughs and Walden both the writers have similarities in writing about nature and biodiversity but express their feelings and how they are different. The main focus of the Burroughs is on the birds and animals, while Henry David Thoreau points out mainly the ponds, trees, lakes, and seasons and their effect on human nature.

 This paper will elaborate on eco-criticism, which is explicitly discussed in the writings of Burroughs and Thoreau.


  • Analysis of central themes of “Bird Stories from Burroughs” and “Life in the woods.”

The first writing concerns happiness and love in “Bird stories from Burroughs,” while another one, “Walden; or live in the woods,” deals with the theme of treatment and relief from various worries through natural objects. According to the first work, Birds express love and happiness and create a soothing natural effect. The sweet voices of sparrows and other birds are pleasant for human ears, as the observer in the book Burroughs experienced. Through eco-criticism, he expresses various significant life accounts of several birds that are an essential part of nature. The other vital book depicts the effects of nature and animals on the human mind and behavior. The animals like owls, foxes and hounds are a crucial part of the natural habitat. The impact of nature is crucial to examine on human mood and emotions. Man has an emotional attachment to nature and natural objects. He feels relief and a sense of escape from the materialistic world developed in the human mind after hectic tasks. Nature provides man with soothing effects, which is why he likes the adorableness of nature and attracts to it. The introspection of nature over the human mind is described in the second work. (Burrouhs, 1918).

The observer expresses his feelings of love and living life happily when he examines the life of Robin’s bird. A couple is playing in the woods, trying to catch one another. A condition is put on that if a male bird catches the female, she will marry her. Birds are lucky to have a good life of freedom. Furthermore, the writer’s style for pointing out the theme of love and freedom is quite delicate. However, the writer also depicts a sorrowful moment when a robin bird learns to fly. He leaves his nest forever and never returns home, depicting that they want to live freely and independently. The writer observes birds’ lives and relates everything with nature, feelings and human life (SINGLEY, 1930).

Boroughs’ way of discussing the birds is much different from others. He says that the life around such an environment that gives you a cool morning breeze with the fragrance of flowers and the birds’ cooing sounds good and living such a beautiful life is not less than a blessing (Warren, 2010). So, the work gives a narration of a blessed life to birds.

When he moves out of the city life, near the woods and a pond, the writer starts to notice like sounds of different things. Like after the train passes, the writer feels alone. He listens to the sounds of bells, lowing of cows, the clucking of birds and the hooting of owls and always relates them to some music. Sometimes he thought of sad music and sometimes of a happy one. As the writer was away from the city and social life, he felt in pure solitude. It does not mean loneliness, but rather self-communion and introspection and new thinking that if a person has no genuine companionship with some people, they feel alone even surrounded by many people (McKusick, 2000). Then the writer focuses on the theme that a tiny house is enough for a small family, but when some guests arrive at the home, some pushchairs are far apart from the walls, even if the house is small.

  • Ways of describing the nature of birds by Burroughs and animals by Thoreau

There are some significant differences between birds and animals, and it is vital to examine their nature in the context of Burroughs and Thoreau’s writings. The danger is the element where both birds and animals show various kinds of reactions, and these reactions are sort of attraction and examination for the observers. Birds start Chirping when they see any danger and start gathering others; as the first book describes the behavior of sparrows when they look at the snake, they have started chirping over it. Contrary to that, animals have different natures while interacting with danger. Animals show their aggressiveness towards the danger and face that danger rather than just making sounds. They have the behavior technique of fighting with the danger rather than just letting the dangerous things happen around them. Birds care for their eggs and children for a short period, but after the first flight of their children, the parent birds leave them on their own. Animals are slightly different there, as the second book describes; animals care for their child and let them with them throughout their lives. Animals are less caring regarding their children as compared to birds. Birds sleep at night while some animals like foxes and hounds start howling or barking. They travel in groups and together rather than walking alone while birds seeking food go separately. The observer in the book also focuses on the nature of some birds, some are cruel that they occupy the nest of other birds to lay eggs and to give the birth to children, and some are caring and so protective that they make their nest in such a place where no enemy or danger can reach. It is an intellectual ability to forethink about future security and take precautionary measures. Contrary to that, animals prefer developing their own dwellings to live and nurture their children instead of eyeing others’ homes. Thoreau (1854) argues that animals prefer making their dwellings in places where predators can hardly reach out.

Thoreau describes the nature of the Animals in his book and how some animals react due to their nature. A night when the author was sleeping heard some odd hooting’s of owls, woke up and went out of the room. The owl was continuously hooting in his voice, and at night the voice was making a kind of horror scene. From owl, the author attempts to present his role as a security guard or some spy who focuses on activity at night, but in the daytime, he sleeps. A group of foxes mostly ranged over ice crust in the moonlight. They look like they are playing some games, and their barking is heard like dogs’ barking as they are in problem or anxious. It is their nature to wander at night and make noises like that.

The author notes that the one thing about the foxes is that they always have unity in their group. The nature of foxes is described in the book as they live in units and hunt together almost and cunning too. The nature of rabbits is discussed as they are very soft-hearted and attentive to any situation and cunning like foxes. Rabbits judge danger in their surroundings quickly and go to their safe rather than facing it. Even before eating the meal, they carefully look here and there and then they start to eat the meal. They are very speedy in the running and very conscious as well. Some of the hounds are discussed, primarily heard by the writer in the afternoon. They always hide in the woods and live life easily and happily. The hounds also try to live in gatherings and in units rather than living separately like the families of some of the birds. So, foxes and hounds live in units, and hounds face the danger, but on the other side, rabbits are soft-heated, and after realizing the danger, they move into their houses rather than facing it bravely like some other animals (Neely, 2014).

So, the main comparison is between its ways of telling about the bird’s nature and how some people get under them. Burroughs explains the stories of the bird and what to know that how echoic tasks were little and exertions were also. He thought that the characteristics that he possesses also relate to some people.

  • Impact of nature on human psyche according to both writers

       The human psyche is the human spirit, soul, and mind. They combine to form a human psyche that affects human nature. Although everything plays its role, nature has a significant effect on the human psyche. According to Burroughs, nature has a good effect on human psychology, like it relaxes the human mind and relieves human stress by fascinating it with natural scenes. Natural affects the human psyche, and all the things that he understands as complicated make them easy for the mind. Burroughs mainly talks about the birds and the environment in which they live, and by observing their life, one could imagine the beauty of nature and its impact on their nature or psyche. When the writer discusses the life of a bird as a sign of freedom, then it addresses us how the birds are the lucky ones to live the life with complete freedom and to have their own choices to make their wishes true, to fulfill their dreams and to enjoy the nature by living freely. All these things make the mental health of a person better than the previous. When the Burroughs addresses a story of a couple of birds that signifies love and a strong relationship bond, it refreshes the writer’s ability to think positively. The birds also impact human behavior because it changes the emotions or mood of a person and leaves a significant impact on the human mind. The author feels pity upon the people who do not engage themselves with nature to enjoy the cool breeze of morning, the beauty of rising dawn and also the life they are living in a social stress form and do not try to better themselves by keeping their touch with nature (Burroughs, 2021).

       The other author, Thoreau, explains the impact of nature on humans in a different style. As the writer is very close and attached to nature, he has an excellent knowledge about nature and how it affects the human psyche and causes what results. The writer describes the effects of nature in the sense that it is a great blessing to have water that refreshes the human body and soul such that a person is a newborn person and all his previous life once again started from a new point. In this sense, the author signifies that if a person becomes excited, he should enjoy nature and use natural resources to give his life a new point or direction with a new spirit. Then, the author discusses the snow, as it gives a new kind of beauty aspect and its impact on the mind is somewhat different from water or the green surface. However, natural scenes and objects impact his behavior and mood. If a person is stressed for some reason, but when he/she pays heed to something natural and birds or animals, it is evident that his/her mood changes with these natural looks. It pacifies his aggression or some other negative emotions. The serenity of natural scenes and natural objects has a soothing effect on his mentality and behavior. The book’s author discusses that the hustle and bustle of city life disturb the human life and mind, so he moves towards the village or rural life. The village life is full of peace and calm. The man in an artificial setting behaves like a machine, and he only cares about the materialistic needs and tries to fulfill them and neglects the natural aspects of the world. However, the author recommends that a man spend some time in a natural environment, which leaves a soothing effect on his mentality or behavior. Despite seeking peace and satisfaction in urban settings, a man finds peace and harmony in the natural ecosystem (Howarth, 1994).

  • Comparison of life in the ecosystem by both writers

Both the writers have different thinking about the ecosystem and the life in the ecosystem away from a busy life routine. The things that have no meaning or are useless to others have a significant aspect in the author’s life.

       According to the book, stories from Burroughs gives us an aspect of living life in the forest with bird and noticing their life and nature will give a broader aspect of the birds’ life in the ecosystem. Burroughs thinks that there is a safe world for birds in the forest, in which they can quickly and freely live their life without any danger. So, the poet thinks it is a good sign for the birds to live independently without hesitation or live under any condition. Burroughs thinks that birds do not like to live with their parents for so long, depicts that they like to live independently, and the other aspect of this is also that they become responsible and old enough to face the difficulties of their life individually or by living in a pair with their partners. However, it does not mean that all the birds do not care for their families. They are caring and loving and very sincere and possessive about their families. So, according to Burroughs, living in the forest or in that ecosystem is the best place to live for the birds (Burroughs, 1954).

Another genuine critique or writer, Thoreau loves nature and all its forms, either in water, rain, snow, trees, bushes, bails, mountains, seasons, and many more. However, he likes the trees most. The writer describes the life of different animals like foxes, hounds, squirrels, owls, ants, and some other animals. He founds the owl living his life alone and enjoying it as well. Owl represents the picture as the night soldier who bravely does his duty. A pack of hounds is in search of something to eat and kill their enemies. Their life is such that they have a passion for fighting and living for life, “do or die” is their situation. These are some of Thoreau’s living styles, nature, and aspects of animals observed and discussed (Selhub, 2012).

  • Conclusion

Two books describe the accounts of birds and animals’ life and some descriptions of the natural environment and its impact on human behavior. Comparing these books is essential because it uncovers the various aspects of birds’ and animals’ lives. The birds have different natures and show distinct behavior while facing danger and surviving in the natural environment. On the other side, animals face the danger more efficiently than birds, and they interact with it bravely rather than just making noise and gathering their partners. Animals sound, but the purpose is only to exert pressure on the dangerous element placed before them. The caring nature, the sweet sounds and the interaction of birds with other birds are significant elements of a bird’s life. While animals care for newborn animals and their living standards or interaction with other animals is distinct from birds. The two books “Bird stories from Burroughs” and “Walden; or Life in the woods” light on the life of birds and animals, but these words describe the effects of natural scenes and natural environment on human behavior and emotions. The natural habitat pacifies a human and his emotions. So, the comparison of the two works is essential for highlighting the various perspectives of birds and animals’ life.


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