Rhetorical Techniques Used In Civil Disobedience By Henry David Thoreau

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Published in 1849, a time filled with slavery and prejudice laws, Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” was initially written as a speech to help express the importance of individuality amongst those under the government’s rule. Throughout his essay, Thoreau uses rhetorical techniques such as analogies for example, comparing men who serve the government to machines, to articulate his distrust towards the government, while emphasizing the active role that each citizen must play in it through standing up for their beliefs. He found it important to persuade civilians to oppose unjust government because many of the people around him were blindly following the government, without even considering their own moral conscience. Thoreau opens …show more content…

In the fifth paragraph of his essay he writes, “ The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies”, which is an example of an analogy used to compare the men who follow the government to machines. Thoreau is criticizing society for following the government blindly, acting like robots, shadowing a prearranged system without taking the time to think for themselves. In this case, a man is defined as an individual who uses his moral conscience to create his own thoughts and ideas. The author believes that he is serving his community as a real man by considering his integrity and thinking for himself. This metaphor is cleverly used to get readers to ask themselves if they are really just robots following laws and ideals that they don’t truly understand or believe in. In addition, this line targets soldiers who serve the government “with their bodies”, while the government does not even give them the respect that they deserve. He continues to express himself through the use of similes and metaphors and states “…but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well”, which infers that soldiers are on the same lowly level of wood, earth and stones, because they blindly follow whatever the government tells them to do, without exercising their morals. He goes on to compare them to men of straw, and a lump of dirt, which further describes the image of soldiers acting as manufactured robots, following whatever they are programed to do, without receiving any form of respect in return. Meanwhile, in reality, the government views soldiers as nothing more than poor laborers, with the same stature as

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