What is Civil Disobedience exactly? Well in 1849, an American Author by the name of Henry David Thoreau wrote an inspiring piece of literature stating the injustice and unruliness of the governments ways and how America was being run. In the essay that he wrote, he states “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government,” (Henry David Thoreau). What he means is that he’s not asking for there not to be a government, but for there to be a better one. “After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems
Both Thoreau and King rely heavily on ethos to get their points across. The intended audience of both is similar; a group of people with similar morals as the writers, but who have neglected action for various reasons. King also appeals to pathos, describing the plight of the colored man vividly. King’s audience is largely aware of this situation already, but he uses it to drive them to action rather than simple awareness. On the other hand, Thoreau appeals little to pathos, focusing instead on logic and ethics.
“Effective writing can cause riots, ignite revolutions, and induce love. Treat the form with respect” (Ellis). Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail”, was a revolutionary document. It was not a letter to cause a bloody revolution, rather being a letter to heal. The United States was a festering wound that wasn’t able to heal on it’s own, and needed the assistance of King. King's letter was like an effective medicine necessary for healing. King’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” is effective at convincing the audience of joining the movement of equality because of his use of rhetorical appeals, his experience with the topic, and his understanding of the audience.
In my opinion Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. have very similar purposes in their writings. Both author 's are writing to protest unfair laws. But they also have very different audiences.
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).
King writes to the eight clergymen who were critical of his protests and to the indifferent people of the United States. In the essay, he claims that he has done nothing wrong by protesting peacefully. In paragraph 11, King says “freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” He is saying that freedom is something they have to fight for because the authorities will not give it to them. He is directing this statement at the clergymen while reaching the apathetic people of the United States. However, Thoreau writes to the common American people because they are directly affected by the government. He is trying to connect with the people willing to take a stand and speak out against the government with him. Also, he is writing to the people who oppose the Mexican war and slavery. Regardless of who King and Thoreau were writing too, they both delivered their arguments in an effective
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. He also believes that a person should distance themselves from government, especially if it is unjust and should refuse to follow such institutions that go against one’s beliefs of doing wrong acts. Although Thoreau affirms we should rebel against what is wrong, we should also be peaceful when doing it like he does, for example, and not participate in passive waiting for something that may be deemed as unjust to change. Do what justice requires no matter what but always be aware of the consequences and do not do unjustly acts when refusing
Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, published in 1849, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, published in 1963, have profound similarities while still having underlying differences.
By analyzing both of these writings it’s almost obvious that Martin Luther King was influenced by Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” because they both use very similar writing techniques. King also described a four step to a non-violent protest, and the first one is to collect facts to determine whether an injustice law exists. This relates to Thoreau’s critique of an unjust government because Thoreau believed that every machine had
Henry Thoreau and Martin Luther King both wrote persuasive discussions that oppose many ideals and make a justification of their cause, being both central to their argument. While the similarity is obvious, the two essays, Civil Disobedience by Thoreau and Letter from a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. do have some similarities. King tries persuading white, southern clergymen that segregation is an evil, unfair law that ought to defeat by use of agitation of direct protesting. Thoreau, on the other hand, writes to a broader, non-addressed audience, and focuses more on the state itself. He further accepts it at its current state, in regard to the battle with Mexico and the institution of slavery. Thus that a person ought to do as he does and not agree to pay taxes to the state that is in support of such evil customs or practices. While both King and Thoreau triumph in their establishment of a firm perception of what they strongly have faith in, they both are successful in their efforts to persuade through different means. Regarding the manner in which King draws emotional appeal through passionate speech, we also see with Thoreau when he makes apparent that he is devoted in what he stands for. Thus attracting more appeal through being more troubled and concerned instead of being innocently optimistic and hopeful. Nevertheless, similarities weigh against differences as both King and Thoreau give reliability to the moral
King backs this up stating, “We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal."” This statement shows that something being legal or illegal doesn’t make it right or wrong. This can be applied to present day, in the news recently Gay marriage has been a huge debate, and due to a Supreme Court Decision gay marriage is now legal. According to King’s definition of just and unjust laws Gay Marriage would be a unjust law because it isn’t morally right, or follow the law of God. King makes the point that a law is just if it follows the Law of God and Unjust if it doesn’t. King goes on further to explain a just law is a law that a “power majority group” wants a minority group to follow and is willing to follow the same law itself. On the other end of the spectrum an unjust law would be if the Majority group isn’t willing to follow the same law they are requiring a minority group to follow. With all of Kings bashing of laws in the letter King takes a step back to clarify that he doesn’t want everyone to go out and break the law, he says this would lead to anarchy. He also says “One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty.” King is the prime example of this, King showed multiple times
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.
In The Letter From Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr, the values of civil disobedience is presented through Logos and allusions. In the text it states, “In your statement you asserted that our actions, even though peaceful, must be condemned because they precipitate violence. But can this assertion be logically made? Isn’t this like condemning the robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? Isn’t this like condemning Socrates because his unswerving commitment to truth and his philosophical delvings precipitated the misguided popular mind to make him drink the hemlock? Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because His unique God-Consciousness and never-ceasing devotion to His will precipitated
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is a dissertation written by American abolitionist, author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau published by Elizabeth Peabody in the Aesthetic Papers in 1849. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was born and lived almost his life in Concord, Massachusetts. After finishing public and private school in Concord he attended the prestige Harvard University. He excelled at Harvard despite leaving school for several months due to health and financial setbacks. Mr. Thoreau graduated in the top half of his class in 1837. Mr. Thoreau argues that people should not allow any government to control or atrophy their thoughts or beliefs. Mr. Thoreau was an also remained a devoted abolitionist and has written