Thoreau's Writings: An Analysis

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"Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine. What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn," (Thoreau, 1849, Part 2, Section 5). Henry David Thoreau embodied the values he espoused in his essay "Civil Disobedience." One of the most meaningful ways Thoreau helped to promote the idea that being a counter friction can "stop the machine" was by his writing. Thoreau used his writing to promote social justice, thereby refusing to "lend himself to the wrong" he so disparages. Slavery was one of those wrongs: a facet of the system of government that was so corrupt and yet completely entrenched in American society. Thoreau also acted as a counter friction to the machine of mindless government by extricating himself from the situations he found most distasteful. His experiences living close to nature at Walden Pond prove that Thoreau was sincerely dedicated to being the change that he advocated in his life. The "machine" Thoreau refers to in "Civil Disobedience" has many different meanings, the most obvious of which is government. Much of "Civil Disobedience" is consumed by Thoreau's concern that American government has become farcical, and sorely in need of change. Democracy, claims Thoreau, has become a system that has lost its integrity. It operates at the expense of others, bolstering the needs and wants of persons already in power. As Thoreau (1849) states at the beginning of "Civil Disobedience" about government in
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