Comparing Thomas Paine's Common Sense And Thomas Jefferson's Declaration Of Independence

1117 words - 4 pages

Comparing Thomas Paine's Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence

In Thomas Paine's Common Sense, there are some similarities and differences in the tone as compared to Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. Paine's approach to his work contrasts that of Jefferson's. However, they still use the same basic techniques to making their feelings known, which include examining the problem, giving reasons for why it is a problem, and offering their opinion on the solution. Jefferson's and Paine's difference in their tone is evident when examining who they are addressing the documents to, the overall layout of their documents, and the relative importance of the documents.

     Thomas Paine constructs Common Sense as an editorial on the subject of the relationship between the Colonies and Great Britain. Through the paper, he hopes to educate his fellow Americans about this subject. In his introduction, he says he feels that there is 'a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong'; which 'gives it a superficial appearance of being right'; (693). He is alluding to the relationship, also calling it a 'violent abuse of power'; (693). This choice of words is similar to those of Jefferson, who asserts that the king had established an 'absolute tyranny'; over the states. Both men set an immediate understanding about their feelings towards the rule of Great Britain over the States. However, where Common Sense seems to be an opinionated essay, Thomas Jefferson writes somewhat of a call to battle. Paine generally seems to be alerting his readers to the fact that there is more going on than they are aware of. Jefferson, on the other hand, begins his declaration by stating, 'When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another'; (715). Unlike Paine, this seems to presuppose that readers are aware of the plight of the nation, and Jefferson is announcing that the time has come to take a stand.

     The main part of Common Sense contrasts in concept with the majority of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson takes a rather rough approach to his writing style, deciding to introduce his ideas in the beginning few paragraphs, then proceeding to list his grievances in the bulk of the piece. Paine however, presents his ideas in more of a persuasive essay style. By providing his readers with more of a storytelling format, he is able to bring them up to date with what is happening, as he does with such paragraph introductions such as 'It hath lately been asserted in Parliament'; (695) and 'But Britain is the parent country, say some'; (695). These phrases communicate to the reader what has been going on, and allows Paine to give his audience a background that will allow them understanding of his propositions. Jefferson simply lists one by one, all of his charges against the king. It assumes your knowledge of events leading up to his...

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