This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Thoreau's Civil Disobedience And Walden Essay

1522 words - 6 pages

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was an American philosopher, author, poet, abolitionist, and naturalist. He was famous for his essay, “Civil Disobedience”, and his book, Walden. He believed in individual conscience and nonviolent acts of political resistance to protest unfair laws. Moreover, he valued the importance of observing nature, being individual, and living in a simple life by his own values. His writings later influenced the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. In “Civil Disobedience” and Walden, he advocated individual nonviolent resistance to the unjust state and reflected his simple living in the nature.
In “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau stated that government should be expedient and conscientious. He started off his essay with his motto, “That government is best which governs least” and “That government is best which governs not at all.” He meant that we did not need a government that made rules and that the government should let the people do whatever they wanted to do. He believed that government should be expedient, not inexpedient. “Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.” He used a lot of examples to justify the inexpedient government. One of them was the Mexican-American war. “Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure…” It was inexpedient because war was just a tool for a few powerful individuals and did not have consent of the multitude. He believed that the government should help most of the people, not just a few rich people. In addition, the minority rule, in which the minority ruled over the majority, also demonstrated the inexpedient government with no conscience. Thoreau believed that the government should not be ruled by the minority just because “they are physically the strongest,” instead, we should be ruled by conscience. Furthermore, Thoreau stated that “…a corporation has no conscience,” because the corporation only cared about money, without caring about the multitude. This is still happening even nowadays. For instance, the cigarette companies are still selling cigarettes to the multitude even though they know that there are some carcinogenic materials in cigarettes that smoking cigarettes can cause cancers. They only care about money, without caring about the people who buy their products. As a result, most of the corporations had no conscience. Besides, people should also be conscientious. We should use our brains to think before we act. For example, the soldiers of the army had no conscience because they act like machines without thinking what they were doing. “The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines.” In brief, Thoreau believed that we should be ruled by conscience instead of the inexpedient government which had no conscience....

Find Another Essay On Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Walden

Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

816 words - 3 pages Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience and Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham Jail Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King, in “Civil Disobedience” and “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” respectively, both conjure a definitive argument on the rights of insubordination during specified epochs of societal injustice. Thoreau, in his enduring contemplation of life and its purpose, insightfully analyzes the conflicting relationship

Literary comparison between Henry Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience" and Martin Luther King's "Letters from Birmingham Jail."

978 words - 4 pages Martin King and Henry Thoreau both write persuasive expositions that oppose majority ideals and justify their own causes. While this similarity is clear, the two essays, "Letters from Birmingham Jail" by King and "Civil Disobedience" by Thoreau, do have their fair share of differences. Primarily in the causes themselves, as King persuades white, southern clergy men that segregation is an evil, unjust law that should be defeated through the

Majority and Government from Thoreau's views- Issues presented in his essay civil disobedience

1243 words - 5 pages . Thoreau uses the example of the Mexican war to show that the standing government is used by a few individuals to carry out acts that are not always supported by the people. Thoreau says that the actual majority, the people, are instruments of the few individuals who are permitted to govern because they are stronger and the people will not act against those individuals, but they will live around the issues. In Civil Disobedience, Thoreau makes the point

Analyzed Essay of Martin Luther King Jr's "A Time to Break Silence" and short comparison to Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience."

930 words - 4 pages bombing to end communism, America should’ve tried to make positive steps to defeating communism.In the last segment of his this essay, “The People are Important, Dr. King says that we must support the revolutions, and make the final analysis of our loyalties. He says that love is the ultimate force of life, and is a necessity for man. He says that we can no longer afford to hate.Henry Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience” is

The Sin of Morality in Martin Luther King Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail," Virginia Woolf's "In Search of a Room of One's Own," and Henry David Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience"

1841 words - 7 pages ), and Henry David Thoreau in "Civil Disobedience" (1849). In King's essay, the author is singularly trying to justify his ground against the appeals of the majority and defend himself against the opposition's arguments. King begins by specifying how timely and righteous his actions truly are through portraying the length of time that his people have suffered from segregation and unbearable suppression from the majority. King explains that his

Civil Disobedience and the Bible

1015 words - 4 pages Civil disobedience is a nonviolent opposition to a law through refusal to comply with it, on grounds of conscience. I understand why somebody might want to oppose the law. Somebody might have their own beliefs on what is right and wrong and they wouldn’t know when they're disobeying. But when you do know what you're doing, if you don’t obey a certain law set forth for you to follow, there most likely will be some kind of consequence for not

Comparing Metaphors in Norman Maclean's, A River Runs Through It and Henry David Thoreau's, Walden

1477 words - 6 pages Comparing Metaphors in Norman Maclean's, A River Runs Through It and Henry David Thoreau's, Walden In Norman Maclean's A River Runs Through It, the author recounts the story of his early life growing up in Montana. The narrative revolves around his family and the art of fly fishing. Through the novel, Maclean begins to understand the wisdom of his father, the fierce independence and downfall of his brother, and the divinity and beauty of

Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac

862 words - 3 pages Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac While discussing Henry David Thoreau's Walden and Aldo Leopold's A Sand County Almanac, we attempted to address an important challenge -- Is the close observation and description of nature merely an idle thing for people in today's world? It could be suggested that nature writing and the close enjoyment of natural environments is merely "recreational" and not

The Connection Between Rachel Carson's "A Fable for Tomorrow", Thoreau's "Walden" and Emerson's "Nature"

870 words - 3 pages . Two prolific transcendentalists, who flourished decades before Carson, would not be surprised by the most shocking statements made in her essay. Thoreau's "Walden" and Emerson's "Nature" brilliantly and unknowingly foreshadow the "fable for tomorrow". In her essay "A Fable for Tomorrow", Rachel Carson condemns society's pitiable attempt to tame the all mighty force of nature. She encourages us adopt a different attitude towards nature by

Gandhi and his use of Civil Disobedience

1107 words - 5 pages a methodology of peaceful protesting because he did not want to increase the use of violence. Gandhi knew that by peacefully pushing for his goal to end discrimination, he would gain more supporters and eventually defeat the opposition. Gandhi’s first attempt at civil disobedience occurred on a train ride in South Africa. He had bought a first class ticket and took his seat. At one point during the ride, he was approached by a police officer

Civil Disobedience and It's Relation to the Democratic Process

1523 words - 6 pages together in a feedback loop in order for their motives to coalesce and balance each other out. This is the case from large galactic masses to individuals engaging in civil disobedience in order to further a cause. Despite concerns that it eliminates order and allows individuals to disregard laws that they disagree with, civil disobedience is quintessential to the democratic process, because it allows those who engage in it to accept the legal

Similar Essays

Thoreau's Civil Disobedience Essay

1093 words - 4 pages 1. Does Henry Thoreau want a revolution? Would his new government, based on his ideas set forth in "Civil Disobedience," be compatible with democracy?In Civil Disobedience and Other Essays, Thoreau declared that the American government is "a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves; and, if ever they should use it in earnest as a real one against each other, it will surely split." (1), causing him to conclude that the best government is the

Thoreau's Civil Disobedience Essay

765 words - 3 pages Thoreau's Civil Disobedience talks about politics, government and the issues concerning these areas today. "Government is best which governs least." This motto means that the government should not have complete power over the people. The people's opinion is what matters the most. Individualism is stressed throughout his writing. To stand up for what you believe in and not bend backwards for the government is necessary. He speaks of Slavery

Comparing Thoreau's Civil Disobedience And Orwell's 1984

896 words - 4 pages Civil Disobedience and 1984 In Orwell’s 1984, the government is all controlling, all manipulative, and all knowing. They maintain every aspect of their member’s lives and monitor them constantly. Conversely, in the context of Civil Disobedience, the government is a form of direct democracy. People have their right to vote and the right to openly express their opinions. The main character of 1984 lives in constant fear of his government while

Citizenship And Government In Henry Thoreau's Civil Disobedience

773 words - 3 pages Citizenship and Government in Henry Thoreau's Civil Disobedience Philosophers, historians, authors, and politicians have spent centuries pondering the relationship between citizens and their government. It is a question that has as many considerations as there are forms of government and it is rarely answered satisfactorily. A relatively modern theorist, author Henry Thoreau, introduced an idea of man as an individual, rather than a