Self-Reliance and Good Citizenship in Henry David Thoreau's Essay, Civil Disobedience

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Self-Reliance and Good Citizenship Civil Disobedience is an essay by Henry David Thoreau on the place of civil disobedience in society. It analyzes men in society, the folly of majority and most importantly of all, it analyzes good citizenship. It looks at what it means to be a good citizenship and the most recurring theme is self-reliance. He discusses obedience to principle, independence from the government, and intolerance of injustice, which are all just kinds of self-reliance. Self-Reliance produces good citizenship. Obedience to principle produces good citizenship. Throughout Civil Disobedience, this idea is a recurring theme and one of the first that Thoreau addresses. When discussing the idea of surrendering the conscience to …show more content…
Self-Reliance and Good Citizenship Civil Disobedience is an essay by Henry David Thoreau on the place of civil disobedience in society. It analyzes men in society, the folly of majority and most importantly of all, it analyzes good citizenship. It looks at what it means to be a good citizenship and the most recurring theme is self-reliance. He discusses obedience to principle, independence from the government, and intolerance of injustice, which are all just kinds of self-reliance. Self-Reliance produces good citizenship. Obedience to principle produces good citizenship. Throughout Civil Disobedience, this idea is a recurring theme and one of the first that Thoreau addresses. When discussing the idea of surrendering the conscience to the legislature he says, “Why has every man a conscience then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward”(Thoreau 387). He makes the distinction between subjects, those who surrender their consciences, and men, who heed their consciences and judge for themselves. Essentially, he states that our consciences are what define our manhood and that the individual must take it into their own hands instead of leaving it to an unjust government. He reinforces this point by likening those who submit without regard for their own consciences to “movable forts or magazines”. He further elaborates by saying, “ The only obligation, which I have the right to assume is to do at anytime what I think is right”(Thoreau 387). Thoreau places
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