Thoreau is consistent when he identifies how governments overrule the conscience of the people, and in all cases suggests that the people should not support its injustices. Whether it is the State of Massachusetts’ “interest… in commerce and agriculture [over] humanity” or the “sanction which the Constitution gives to slavery,” Thoreau always urges one to fight for justice and never give injustice monetary or practical support (Thoreau 3, 6). Furthermore, Thoreau approaches every topic with a healthy amount of distrust of human sincerity and integrity. “No man with a genius for legislation has appeared in America,” and, “I think th[ese] people mean well; they are only ignorant” are examples of his approach (Thoreau 12, 10). The
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.
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
In the essay “Civil Disobedience,” written by Henry David Thoreau, he stated, “Government is at best an expedient, but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.” This expresses his opinion about the government that controlled America during the mid 1800s. His essay expresses that the government only addresses how to deal with a majority of the population, instead of finding a way to serve individuals. Thoreau’s viewpoint on the government is why he feels the need for resistance. For Thoreau, resistance means doing what a person believes is morally right.
It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right." (Jacobus, 306). He argues that it is up to each and every individual to stand up for their own rights and know the difference between what’s right and what’s wrong. As said by Thoreau, by committing acts of civil disobedience or peaceful protests, citizens of the nations are able to have their voice to speak up against the wrongdoings of their own government. They bring attention to the more important issues at hand and allow opinions to be formed, and can thus spark change in society.
In his essay “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau asserts that the government is not needed and must be disobeyed for the sake of the people. Over a hundred years later after Thoreau published his essay, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” similarly shows the need for the disobeyment of the government. Thoreau asserts that governments are not necessary, and must be dissolved. While King follows a similar ideal, he believes that the government is inherently good, but that some of the laws passed by the government are cruel to people. While they are both appealing emotionally and ethically, King’s is more sound in argument and portrays a more practical way of civil disobedience.
Leading up to civil disobedience in Birmingham, as the last option, King states how he uses self-purification to assure every move he made was right. Like King, Thoreau’s definition of a just law is moral, and an unjust law affects one’s conscience. He believes, “If the injustice . . . is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law. Similarly to King, Thoreau believes if the government ever becomes corrupt, it is the people’s duty to correct the wrong.
In his essay, “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau uses rhetorical questions and many dehumanizing analogies to elicit an emotional reaction from his readers and urge them to carefully consider their relationship with the law. Firstly, he considers the correlation between man and law, and supplies the audience with many thought-provoking questions such as: “Why has every man a conscience, then?” The use of these questions inspires self-reflection within the reader and causes them to rethink their present beliefs. Because the questions primarily focus on the morals associated with lawmaking, Thoreau also adds an emotional appeal to his essay—everyone wants to do the right thing and will therefore be more connected to his argument.
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
To begin, Huck’s struggles within the deformed conscience of an entire society leads to his maturation. Throughout the book, Huck struggles within himself whether or not to follow his heart or to follow society’s deformed views. In one situation, Huck begins to feel guilty about helping a runaway slave, Jim, to freedom. Huck narrates, “My conscience got to stirring me up hotter than ever, until at last I says to it, ‘let up on me- it ain’t too late yet-
The individual's relationship to the state is a concept often entertained abstractly; at variance with this is Civil Disobedience, which analyzes Thoreau's first direct experience with state power in his brief 1846 imprisonment. Thoreau metaphorically detailed his search for virtue in the quote, "The finest qualities of our nature, like the bloom on fruits, can be preserved only by the most delicate handling. Yet we do not treat ourselves nor one another thus tenderly." (Thoreau 8) In Civil Disobedience Thoreau as earnest seeker and flawed captive of the conscience concertedly attempts to correct this shortcoming within the context of slavery and the Mexican-American War.
If anything, we need to rebel for our freedom of being peasants. Maybe in the future, our spec of braveness can be merged to a big bang of freedom and justice. The American Revolution, the Civil War, women’s rights are many of the acts of disobedience that led to a change in our way of life. The 1700s, a time where the colonist were under the control of New England.
What Thoreau means by the Civil Disobedience is that every person should be govern more by his own moral compass that gives him much clearer answer to his deeds, rather than some laws of a government. “Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think we should be men first, and subjects afterward.” (1)
In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau questions, “must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think we should be men first, and subjects afterward”, indicating that man should take more focus on standing up for what is right instead of conforming to what the majority is thinking or what people are being told to think by the government (Thoreau). Thoreau explains that every man has a conscience for a reason, all men are able to generate an opinion on what is right and what is wrong and that men should in a sense “man up” and fight instead of backing down to become slaves to the legislative government. Thoreau gives an example of his non-conformity in Civil Disobedience when he writes about how he stood up against the government by withholding money to pay his taxes.