Henry David Thoreau was a tough expert of the art of writing. Thoreau is known for his philosophical and naturalist writings. He applied himself to converting what he witnessed of nature and humanity into his own words. As Thoreau wrote his essay from jail, he persuades individuals to oppose unjust governments. Thoreau stated in his article “Civil Disobedience” that “The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.” (Thoreau 1) the word ‘nationalism’ was not used in the time of Thoreau instead he used the word government. Thoreau depict civil disobedience a moral and social duty of American citizens. He describes civil disobedience as an act of willful challenge. In “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau argues against nationalism and supports a more laissez-faire government through the use of pathos, ethos, and logos.
Thoreau made his introduction of “Civil Disobedience” clear in the main purposes for writing the article. He immediately focuses his readers’ attention on the value of one’s government by saying “I heartily accept the motto, —’That government is best which governs least;” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.” (Thoreau 1) His essential problem with the government, and the reason he thinks the power of the government should be limited as much as possible, is that if the government can become
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysGet Access
From the start of man fighting for freedom or his beliefs, the question has consistently been whether a person can wage a battle using words rather than actions. The notion of civil disobedience would seem to be an inept weapon against political inequity; history, however, has persistently proven it to be the most dynamic weapon of the individual. By refusing to pay his taxes and subsequently being imprisoned, Henry David Thoreau demonstrated this very defiance. Thoreau’s Resistance to Civil Government conveys the effectiveness of the individual conscience, renounces hypocrisy, and cultivates a sense of urgency where inaction creates a moral conflict. This path of responsibility paved by Thoreau gave our leaders of today the means they
In Henry David Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, he is writing to the American people. He is trying to spark a desire for change, for people to oppose their government without actions. He uses this work to criticize the American institution of slavery as well as the Mexican-American War. Thoreau is attempting to convey the importance of listening to one’s conscience over the laws, believing that it is more important to do what they feel is right rather than listen to the laws given by the majority. Thoreau feels that people should protest against their government, but not using violent actions. He is trying to persuade the people to voice their opinions and break the chain of majority rule. Thoreau is writing during the time of the war between the United States and Mexico, which took place between 1846 and 1848. He writes to oppose the government’s actions and policies during this time period. He refused to pay a tax that would support the war and was imprisoned for a day. Thoreau uses ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade his audience to agree with his view of the American government and to voice their oppositions.
According Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience, he mentions that to require civil disobedience, the circumstances must be like America’s. Circumstances like practicing war, deriving power from the people, having unjust laws, and supporting slavery. Thoreau writes, “must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislation?” (Thoreau ). He mentions how no man should be subdued to any government or institution, especially if it portrays unjust. Therefore he also implies that if a law exhibits unjust, the population should not follow the law with the knowledge of the consequence. Similarly, Thoreau establishes, “when . . . a whole country is unjustly overrun and conquered by a foreign army, and subjected to military law, I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize,” (Thoreau ). He explains how it expresses the duty of Americans to rebel and use civil disobedience, it is not just a right, but it drives Americans to be aware of and completely use for the advantage of society. Thoreau further explains the unlawful government by stating, “I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which the slave's government also,” (Thoreau ). He describes the circumstance of America as a prejudiced institution, which rightfully allows citizens to use their duty of civil disobedience. A government should require unjust laws, slavery, aggressive law, and strength over intelligence to cause civil disobedience. However, civil disobedience a citizen’s duty and they must maintain it.
The Statue of Liberty is an American symbol of justice and freedom from oppression, yet in Henry Thoreau's opinion, the U.S. government is completely antithetical. In Thoreau’s essay on civil disobedience, he introduces and accepts the motto, “That government is best which governs not at all.” In his eyes, the government does more harm than good for its people. Underneath his seemingly main idea, Thoreau implies an overall antithesis where he defines who, in his eyes, is allowed to be disobedient. In order to advance this main idea and reinforce this mottos throughout the essay, Thoreau uses metaphors and juxtaposition to strengthen this subtle antithesis found throughout the essay.
Henry David Thoreau wrote Civil Disobedience, which is about him trying to persuade citizens that their obligation is to contravene and correct the unfair laws of the government. Thoreau begins Civil Disobedience with the view point “That government is best which governs least”
Thoreau's Civil Disobedience talks about politics, government and the issues concerning these areas today. "Government is best which governs least." This motto means that the government should not have complete power over the people. The people's opinion is what matters the most. Individualism is stressed throughout his writing. To stand up for what you believe in and not bend backwards for the government is necessary. He speaks of Slavery and the war in Mexico and how is must be put to a stop. The people are responsible for this happening. Many people opposed these things yet did nothing to change it. Allowing yourself to be a part of injustice makes you a part of the negativity. Paying taxes to a corrupt government makes you
After spending a night in jail, after nonpayment of Massachusetts poll tax, Thoreau wrote his essay “Civil Disobedience”. He states that governments are mostly “inexpedient” (1577), or not practical. At best, Thoreau pushed the idea that the government isn’t useful because it is not our own. He writes “What makes this duty the more urgent is the fact that the country so overrun is not our own, but ours is the invading army” (1580). Americans listen to the rules established by the government, but it is not necessary, because the government is just the majority of people with whom are living off a different countries rules. The reason the government is even there, is because it gives the citizens some type of stable structure to live by. Thoreau feels that the government is unjust and the citizens of America should not follow rules. He feels like a reform is in need; “It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong” and “not to give it practically his support” (1582). Thoreau and Emerson both push for social reform of the individual. Emerson wants the individual to be reliant on themselves, and not fall into the conformity of the American society. Thoreau, also teaches the individual to think different then the governmental established rules. Both authors want the readers to trust themselves, before they trust the
The belief of civil disobedience that is evident in present day America was created by Henry Thoreau. In the history of mankind, Thoreau is most notably known for his creation of the ideology that encourages improvement of the government, but only for specific reasons. This belief created by Thoreau became known as civil disobedience through the publication of his essay titled “Civil Disobedience.” In the essay, Thoreau continuously advised for the improvement of a government and also the person in that society, which he also believed the government reflected the will of an individual. Thoreau believed that civil disobedience against the government was necessary, but only for specific reasons. In the reading, Thoreau stated many reasons why one should not conform to the government, such as “But when the friction comes to have its machine, and oppression and robbery are organized, I say, let us not have such a machine any longer” (Thoreau 3). Thoreau believed that one should change the government and not conform if that particular state has many injustices occurring against the masses in society. The metaphor in the quote establishes friction to resemble the government at work, such as laws passed and enforced on an individual. If the friction were to become unnecessary, harm the society, and benefit the government, Thoreau
Thoreau believes that, “ That government is best which governs not at all” stating that the government should not only represent the people but should be run by them as well (Thoreau 940). Thoreau’s beliefs explain his position on civil disobedience, stating that civil disobedience is needed when the government implements policies that are against the individual's conscience and beliefs. Thoreau gives an example of when civil disobedience is needed by expressing his objections towards the American government's involvement in the Mexican war, “file of soldiers ...marching in admirable order over the hill and dale to wars, against their wills”(Thoreau 941). While the soldier's duty is to serve their country, if their country is asking them to disregard their own judgement to become useful for their benefit, the individual must refuse allegiance and become useful as a person and not a machine the government can use at their own will. The people that the government uses, are used to invade other countries and are enforcing their policies, making them become a popular vote government as well, “we are all made at last to pay homage to and support our own meanness” ( Thoreau 945). Thoreau is implying that civil disobedience is required in order to follow one’s own voice, to follow through to their morals, even if it means not being included in the popular vote. Thoreau states that civil disobedience is a duty that is required to indicate the necessity for change in the government, “whole country is unjustly overrun...not too soon for honest men to rebel
Both, Thoreau and King, in their works “Civil Disobedience” and “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” successfully and effectively delineates arguments for the importance and necessity of civil disobedience. Although both essays present very similar ideas, it is important to note the similarities and differences which are evident through the use of language and the presentation of the arguments and ideas because if it were not for the proper use of language, tone, and presentation of the idea of civil disobedience in Dr. King’s letter, he might not have been successful in his campaign; Thoreau initially presented the idea of civil disobedience in 1848, but his contemporaries dismissed his political essays.
Henry David Thoreau, an American essayist, philosopher, and historian around the 1800s, composed “Civil Disobedience” to uncover the rapid downfall of the American Government. Thoreau highlights “That Government does best when it does not govern at all”; and when the men are most ready for It, that will be the type of Government they will have, a Government-free one (Thoreau 1). Thoreau expresses his bravery in his writing to bear his nationalistic attitude, showing his hostility towards the American Government during that time; he asserts that the Government, in it’s present state is sinister and corrupted because the Government favors slavery and the Mexican war. Throughout his explanations, Thoreau argues that the American citizens should take complete control by being the true leaders of the government and not allow the Government to rescind or decay their consciences. To grab the reader’s attention and to lead them to a new kind of nationalism and it’s circumstance, Thoreau exquisitely makes use of the rhetorical elements of ethos, logos, and pathos.
Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau Analysis Thoreau essay begins with stating that government should work as no other than an actual government. Thoreau’s essay is an example of a judicial type of argument. Thoreau criticizes policies and the Mexican-American War. Thoreau use of Pathos was seen throughout his writing, specifically when Thoreau was talking about his time in prison. The author appealed to emotion and tried to draw sympathy from the audience by talking about how bad jail was and also how unfair the government was.
Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay written based on his disproval’s and arguments about mistreatment from the government. Within Henry David Thoreau essay, he points out his views on how he sees people getting treated for being different. Henry David Thoreau believed that people should fight for their rights like everyone other citizens has. Henry David Thoreau illustrates in his essay, “But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it” . Henry David Thoreau sees and knows that the government has no justice towards the people, those who get their rights see it as
Henry David Thoreau was an American writer and protester, who wrote the influential essay “Civil Disobedience”. In his essay, he advocates for citizens to protest against government actions that they deem unjust and to stand up for one’s rights, putting morals before law,
Henry David Thoreau, wrote an assay about “Civil Disobedience” in 1849. Thoreau a man whit strong believes about government been needed for the people, but needed to be modified. The writer states that, “government is best which governs least” the best government is the one who rules a nation by putting innocent people to risk to keep them safe. For example, the Mexican war, a war that a president set as one of his four goals throughout his presidency. Thoreau, decided to spend a night on jail instead of paying his poll taxes, taxes that till this day is hard to understand why people pay taxes everyday and at the end of the year there is more taxes taking out of citizen grand total earn. Thoreau claims, “not at once no government, but at once a better government” people need rules, laws and protection. People need government, a government that cares for each and one of them as a human being. What the government needs is less wars, better government, and reduce taxes, so citizens can make a decent living.