Thoreau Spent In Jail: Character Analysis

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Values are a set of principles that define a person at the essence and reflect what they hold to be truly important. They act as like a compass, providing a sense of correctness when on the right track, or internal nudge to correct one's path when drifting off course. In Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, Henry David Thoreau is a unique character who strives to live a life in alignment with his values, even if it means going to extreme lengths. The belief that spiritual welfare is of greater importance over financial prosperity and the emphasis on the power of the individual are two out of seven Transcendental values that have the greatest influence on Henry David Thoreau’s actions. Throughout the play, the …show more content…

He stays true to his own opinions against the United States involvement in the Mexican-American War and his value of individualism enables him to put that belief into action through civil disobedience, despite it being a daring and unheard-of act that went against the prevailing views of his community. Although others such as Emerson and Sam urge him to pay the tax and go along with the societal norm, he refuses to comply with a requirement that went against his viewpoint. Thoreau regards the action of “going along” with extreme distaste, comparing it to “ only breathing in and never breathing out! A man can suffocate on courtesy” (13). Exercising what he saw to be the unalienable right, or even obligation, of the individual to develop original thought and determine right or wrong according to their true self, he maintains his own stance even if it meant being arrested and imprisoned. Thoreau's mother describes him as “[a]lways [doing] the right thing, [e]ven if it’s wrong” (94). Collectively, direct and indirect characterization through these quotes clearly indicate how Thoreau seeks to make every decision based upon his own personal beliefs of its morality, independent from societal pressure, and to act upon it

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