“The Lotus-Eaters” is a short story by the author H.D. Thoreau that follows two people who are fed up with society’s materialism and have no desire to continue in this tradition of endless consumption. Instead, they opt out of society in search of happiness in nature—where they come across a flower which they decide symbolizes something more beautiful than they find in their surroundings.
The moral centered on the idea that when people try to find beauty outside themselves, it is almost impossible to replicate the experience because beauty cannot be captured by people without losing its spiritual power, leaving them empty and dissatisfied with their lives.
What do the Lotus Eaters symbolize?
The Lotus Eaters symbolize a simpler, less stressful way of life. Their simplicity is a blissful distraction from the complexity and chaos of our own technologically advanced society. They would rather enjoy the simple life, surrounded by beauty, rather than sitting at a desk for hours at a time working toward a promotion or actively contributing to society. In short, the Lotus-Eaters represent peace, happiness and security.
What did the Lotus Eaters do?
The Lotus Eaters are not really people, but a race of creatures who live in the Islands of the Blessed. They seem to be quite intelligent, able to understand human speech and take action based on what is said. The Lotus eaters are described as people with bodies shaped like ours, but faces “like yonder lofty cliff.” Their faces are white and they have eyes that are “deep blue” or purple, or “pale grey”, depending on which translation you read. They also have “thin lips” and “long ears”. At one point, the story seems to suggest that they have animal features such as fur or feathers, but this is never really confirmed.