Thoreau essay civil disobedience

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go: If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider I would argue that the thesis statement to "Civil Disobedience" can be found in a paragraph near the middle of the essay: If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider whether the remedy will not be worse than the evil; but if it is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.

Thoreau essay civil disobedience

Table of Contents Summary Thoreau's Civil Disobedience espouses the need to prioritize one's conscience over the dictates of laws.

It criticizes American social institutions and policies, most prominently slavery and the Mexican-American War. Thoreau begins his essay by arguing that government rarely proves itself useful and that it derives its power from the majority because they are the strongest group, not because they hold the most legitimate viewpoint.

He contends that people's first obligation is to do what they believe is right and not to follow the law dictated by the majority. When a government is unjust, people should refuse to follow the law and distance themselves from the government in general. A person is not obligated to devote his life to eliminating evils from the world, but he is obligated not to participate in such evils.

This includes not being a member of an unjust institution like the government. Thoreau further argues that the United States fits his criteria for an unjust government, given its support of slavery and its practice of aggressive war.

Thoreau doubts the effectiveness of reform within the government, and he argues that voting and petitioning for change achieves little. He presents his own experiences as a model for how to relate to an unjust government: In protest of slavery, Thoreau refused to pay taxes and spent a night in jail.

But, more generally, he ideologically dissociated himself from the government, "washing his hands" of it and refusing to participate in his institutions. According to Thoreau, this form of protest was preferable to advocating for reform from within government; he asserts that one cannot see government for what it is when one is working within it.

Civil Disobedience covers several topics, and Thoreau intersperses poetry and social commentary throughout.

Thoreau essay civil disobedience

For purposes of clarity and readability, the essay has been divided into three sections here, though Thoreau himself made no such divisions.Thoreau’s essay, now popularly known as “Civil Disobedience,” was originally titled “Resistance to Civil Government.” He delivered it as a lecture in and published it The impetus for the essay was Thoreau’s refusal to pay the poll tax and his subsequent stay in jail overnight.

Henry David Thoreau wrote the essay Civil Disobedience to show his opposition to slavery and American imperialism. His essay has influenced many prominent civil .  Civil Disobedience Essay: King and Thoreau Civil disobedience is a force needed to purify the condemnation of injustices within a society.

Civil disobedience can be defined as the refusal to comply with certain laws as a peaceful form of political protest. In addition to Civil Disobedience (), Thoreau is best known for his book Walden (), which documents his experiences living alone on Walden Pond in Massachusetts from Throughout his life, Thoreau emphasized the importance of individuality and self-reliance.

This incident prompted Thoreau to write his famous essay, “Civil Disobedience” (originally published in as “Resistance to Civil Government”).

Thoreau’s minor act of defiance caused him to conclude that it was not enough to be simply against slavery and the war. However, Thoreau did not follow this advice in his essay "Civil Disobedience." You might say that the very first sentence tells us what Thoreau believes and intends to write about.

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