In his powerful Phi Beta Kappa address presented at Harvard, “The American Scholar”, Ralph Waldo Emerson asserts, “The scholar of the first age received into him the world around: brooded thereon; gave it a new arrangement of his own mind, and uttered it again. . . . It can stand, and it can go” (Emerson 1). By this quote, it can be easily interpreted that Emerson has a passion for writing and books as he speaks his beliefs. In fact, Emerson incorporates many of his beliefs throughout his speech, from unity in writing and society to the practice of new philosophies being formed in every generation. Emerson utilizes the rhetorical appeal of diction and the rhetorical fallacy of loaded words throughout his speech in order to depict his beliefs on
In Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, he explains his beliefs, criticizes the issues he sees within the government, and proposes how we should handle these injustices especially after experiencing jail. Thoreau didn't pay poll taxes, which supported a war and slavery itself (Costly, n.d.). Thoreau regards that the government shouldn’t completely interfere with our lives, but should not be completely done away with. Also, that it is not used correctly and tends to only benefit the majority who may or may not have logical or just views. People are supposed to do what they think is right and not go against their conscience, but to follow it and not what is proposed by the majority.
In Martin Luther King, Jr.’s essay, “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau essay “Civil Disobedience,” both share their opinions on social injustice and civil disobedience. They both believe that people can protest unfair and unjust laws imposed on them in a civil way. In addition, King and Thoreau are challenging the government with their essays, which they wrote after they got sent to jail. For protesting the treatment of blacks in Birmingham, Alabama, King spent eleven days in jail; Thoreau spent a night in jail for refusing to pay his poll tax. Both King and Thoreau’s essays present similar plans for a resolution.
“Civil Disobedience” is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau about people needing to put their conscience ahead of the government rulings by criticizing American policies and beliefs. He expresses his opinion of a “government is best which governs least” (Thoreau 305) by heavily supporting his topic and by using rhetorical techniques. Rhetorical devices are used in papers for the writer to better persuade the audience or to better understand the topic they are writing about; they can also be used to play with the reader’s emotions. The rhetorical devices that have the most impact on the reader in Thoreau’s essay are allusions, rhetorical questions, pathos, imagery, and chronological narrative.
Throughout history there have been many political changes that are either supported, or not, by citizens. In the given passage from, "Civil Disobedience," by Thoreau, a perspective of disagreeing with the government ways, is provided. Thoreau explains how a government should be in comparison to how it really is by utilizing his words to set the tone and mode, imagery to achieve his audience's understanding, and diction to make his writing scholarly. Although tone and mode are not directly stated, you can infer that Thoreau meant for his writing to be taken as serious and powerful. His implementation of words such as, "inexpedient," "execute," " integrity," and "command," makes one think about their lawful rights and reflect on what rights are supported or
Dr. King explains, “Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path” (King 2)? Likewise, Thoreau states, “I have paid a poll tax for six years, I was put in jail once on this account, for one night...” (Thoreau 9).
Throughout the writing of “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau often referred back to his idea that he supported which was “That government is best which governs not at all.” (Thoreau) In the passage, Thoreau believed that the government does not have a conscience. He talked about not wanting to pay the government poll tax, which in result, caused him to be thrown into jail. A poll tax is just a tax on a person for existing, therefore, everyone had to pay the same amount regardless of the value of their possessions.
Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862 born and raised in Concord, was a popular student in Harvard. Despite his financial and health deformities he was able to graduate from the university. By 1837 America was facing an economic depression and jobs were not easily available. Thoreau began to write poems and essays of transcendentalism to escape from the development and also to emphasize on nature. Therefore, he spent two years in Walden Pond (Schneider, 2013).
Emerson also wrote about change. He believed that if one wanted to change they could, all they had to do was change their thoughts, attitude, and perspective. Emerson wrote, “If we live truly, we
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a renowned transcendentalist, shared many universal truths during the period of Transcendentalism, which further advocated the ideals of the period. This maxim in particular expresses that your own identity and perspective of the world is what is most important in the end. Emerson states that nothing is as important as you, regarding the path you choose and the ideals you create for yourself. In other words, Emerson encourages people to not succumb to society's expectations of who a person should be, but instead live a lifestyle you desire to live.
Henry Thoreau was a simple man who believed in simple living. Thoreau would probably turn circles in his grave if he was to realize how technical the world has become. Two reasons that made Thoreau particularly suspicious of technology were (1) that we have to spend time working to afford the technology, so why not be without technology and more free time, and (2) that technology distances us from nature and can affect our lives for the worse. Sure there is some sense in his beliefs, but technology does too much good to just completely abandon it. Many believe that our desire to live a lifestyle full of technology leaves a wave of materialism to sweep through our nation.
Thoreau’s essay focuses on his belief that the individual has the right and the duty to protest unjust laws or an unjust government. He even spent the night in jail because he refused to pay the poll tax in order to protest the Mexican American War. Thoreau’s night in jail was the inspiration for his reasoning that “There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are deviated, and treats him accordingly.” (Thoreau 1872). He believed in the power of the individual as an essential part of the State and that “a single man can bend [the government] to his will.”
Henry David Thoreau’s book “Civil Disobedience” (1847) and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963) both are written to expose unjust laws in the United States while having considerable differences in their tone. Thoreau and King both challenge the common majority to resist injustice and they both went to jail to support their cause. Although, Thoreau’s book has a negative tone that is simply angry and contains negative allusions, King’s tone is very “disappointed” for the fact that his allusions insue a greater emotional effect on the reader. King and Thoreau’s arguments share many similar points regarding unjust laws. Thoreau is expressing his grievances in regards to the U.S - Mexican war and its direct perpetuation
Two different writers. Two different issues. Two different time periods. Two different races. One hundred years can make Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” and Martin Luther King's “Letter from Birmingham Jail” seem widely different from each other.
Civil disobedience is the deliberate action against an unjust law to invoke a positive change in government and society. Civilians have the right to refute these types of unjust laws to eliminate inequality and government’s unjust nature by following conscience before laws for moral guidance. As demonstrated in Antigone, this is depicted by the daughter of Oedipus, who disobeys Creon’s law for the greater good because of the laws unjust nature. In Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau, a naturalist, promotes this concept as well through his philosophical standpoint of the flaws of the government. Lastly, in Dr. King’s letter he qualifies the idea of civilians disobeying their government through non violent campaigns to stand up against