Resistance to Civil Government: Thoreau Essay

1096 Words 5 Pages
The title is an important aspect that should be considered and not misinterpreted. When this essay was first published it was under the title “Resistance to Civil Government”. The resistance in his title is later used as metaphor that compares the government to that of a machine. The machine is producing injustice therefore he says “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go; perchance it will wear smooth — certainly the machine will wear out.” He furthers this metaphor by saying “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.” After the death of Thoreau his essay was retitled “Civil Disobedience”. For the purpose of this essay civil is meant as “relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state”, and therefore civil disobedience stands for “disobedience to the state”.
Thoreau is targeting all of the American citizens with this essay. He is making a statement to them and trying to convince them that as a whole we need to make a stand against the American government. Thoreau is attempting to demonstrate his self-reliance against the government. He upholds his specific principles and encouraged nonaggressive acts of political resistance to protest government policy. An example of his resistance is when he states “that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it. I cannot for an instant recognize that political organization as my government which is the slave's…