Henry Thoreau on Civil Disobedience

520 Words Feb 2nd, 2018 2 Pages
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.
In his essay, Thoreau uses the extended metaphor of the government-as-machine to emphasize how government dehumanizes its citizens. He relates the government to a machine in that it is made up of many parts which all must work together for the machine to be successful. If something is broken, one can fix the “machine” in order to better suit his/her needs. Thoreau introduces this metaphor when he states, “men serve the state not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies.” He begins with the first, military men who serve with their bodies. These men, in most cases, have no free exercise of moral sense serving under the state. Without the use of their moral sense or conscience, Thoreau comes to the conclusion that they can be replaced by objects such as wood and stones and therefore, “have…
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