Henry David Thoreau 's Argument On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience Essay

Henry David Thoreau 's Argument On The Duty Of Civil Disobedience Essay

Length: 1261 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

When it comes to civil rights, there are two pieces of literature commonly discussed. One of these pieces is Henry David Thoreau’s persuasive lecture On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. In this work, Thoreau discusses how one must combat the government with disobedience of unjust laws and positive friction to create change. The second piece is the commonly known article Letter From a Birmingham Jail by Martin Luther King Jr. This letter covers the ways in which peaceful protest and standing up against injustice can lead to positive results. Both pieces conveyed a similar message of standing up for what is right. The strongest rhetorical methods which Thoreau uses are allusions, logos, ethos and rhetorical questions. However, King’s use of connectable allusions, pathos, more ethos, and aphorisms make his piece more effective than Henry David Thoreau’s.
Overall, both pieces had the purpose of bringing arise to social change. Thoreau’s piece was written prior to the civil war, and was in response to the Mexican-American war and slavery in some territories. It was intended for US citizens; more specifically, those who are unhappy with the way the United States government is ran. Thoreau spent a night in jail for his belief when he refused to pay a poll tax, which is a main point in his piece. Similarly, King’s piece was written during the civil rights movement in response to him being incarcerated for ‘parading without a permit’, and countless other racially based incidents. After being arrested, King read a newspaper article, by 7 priests and 2 rabbis, that asked African Americans to stop their protests, so he wrote back to them stating his point of view. Both pieces of work are highly regarded to this day.
King’s use of allusi...


... middle of paper ...


...r -or listener in the case of the original lecture- may just skim past them. In this scenario, it would make no difference if some of these short statements were taken out all together. Ignorance of aphorisms does not occur when reading King’s letter. His aphorisms stick out boldly in the midst of his sentences, and the reader definitely pays more attention than normal when they see one.
In final analysis, King does a far better job at conveying his message and convincing the reader of his purpose than Thoreau does. Both present a strong argument, but King’s use of allusions, pathos, ethos, and aphorisms lead to his piece being more effective than Thoreau’s use of allusions, logos, ethos, and aphorisms. King’s article he wrote while in jail not only helped tremendously in the fight for equal rights, but it will go down in history as one of the best works of all time.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The General Argument Made By Henry David Thoreau

- ... Therefore, I conclude that laws that absolutely violate a people 's natural rights should be subjected to being broken until something changes. One of my favorite parts to this writing happens to be the first sentence of the passage. “I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.”. I have read this quote many times before and it always made me think. Would a government that governs least lead to a total anarchy....   [tags: Henry David Thoreau, Civil disobedience]

Strong Essays
820 words (2.3 pages)

Henry David Thoreau 's Civil Disobedience Essay

- Henry David Thoreau starts Civil Disobedience with “I heartily accept the motto— “That government is best which governs the least,” and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically” (para. 1). The impression that I got when I read this first sentence is that he had some issues with how the government works. His statement, “That government is best which governs not at all,” somehow sent me an impression that he does not want a government when in fact he just does not want how the government is structured so he calls for its reformation....   [tags: Henry David Thoreau, Civil disobedience]

Strong Essays
1224 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about Citizenship and Government in Henry Thoreau's Civil Disobedience

- 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 subject, by thoroughly describing the way a citizen should live many of his works....   [tags: Thoreau Civil Disobedience Essays]

Strong Essays
772 words (2.2 pages)

Analysis Of ' Civil Disobedience ' By Henry David Thoreau Essay

- Although they bear some smashing similarities, the difference between Socrates and Thoreau’s arguments are they both believe that humans are only virtuous beings. And that their views on people and the government are divergent. In “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau, he wrote an essay in 1849 about the American policies being criticized it argues that people should not permit governments to overrule or impair their consciences, and how the American slavery and Mexican-American war was going on....   [tags: Henry David Thoreau, Civil disobedience, Plato]

Strong Essays
714 words (2 pages)

Analysis Of The Article ' Civil Disobedience ' Essay

- It is said that temptation leads to sin and that all humans are capable of sin. Without laws, chaos would reign and no man would be left unaffected. This is where the concept of government comes into affect. However, the question of how the government should function in humans ' life has been asked since the beginning of its creation. Henry Thoreau has asked this question and came up with the answer that government is essential in human life but the attempt to govern the people should not overstep the bounds of what its citizens needed....   [tags: Black people, Civil disobedience]

Strong Essays
1068 words (3.1 pages)

The Value of Civil Disobedience Essay

- In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr passed away from a sniper’s bullet. He gave us thirteen years of nonviolent protest during the civil rights movement of the 1950’s. Before I can give my opinion on the history of race relations in the United States since King’s assassination in 1968 strengthened or weakened his arguments on the necessity and value of civil disobedience. You should know the meaning of civil disobedience. The word civil has several definitions. “The one that is intended in this case is "relating to citizens and their interrelations with one another or with the state", and so civil disobedience means "disobedience to the state"....   [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]

Strong Essays
1102 words (3.1 pages)

Dworkin, Thoreau, and Civil Disobedience Essays

- In Ronald Dworkin’s “Taking Rights Seriously,” he argues that the government cannot restrict the rights of individuals to do what they feel is morally right, as long as those individuals are willing to pay the legal consequences. In Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience,” he argues that men must always do what they think is right, especially when they think an aspect of government is not working. These arguments advocate civil disobedience in order to uphold one’s morals, but each has flaws regarding the relationship between the individual and society that must be fixed before the theories can be applied to society as a whole....   [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]

Strong Essays
1470 words (4.2 pages)

Essay on Civil Disobedience

- The political concepts of justice and how a society should be governed have dominated literature through out human history. The concept of peacefully resisting laws set by a governing force can be first be depicted in the world of the Ancient Greeks in the works of Sophocles and actions of Socrates. This popular idea has developed over the centuries and is commonly known today as civil disobedience. Due to the works of Henry David Thoreau and Martin Luther King Jr. civil disobedience is a well-known political action to Americans; first in the application against slavery and second in the application against segregation....   [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]

Strong Essays
932 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Henry David Thoreau : Civil Disobedience

- When thinking of Henry David Thoreau, the first thing that comes to mind is his award-winning book Walden or essay “Civil Disobedience”, both pinnacles of the transcendentalist philosophy of the time. In learning more about their author, however, it is important to look at his earlier works, more specifically, his poetry. Henry David Thoreau’s naturalistic poetry reflects his transcendentalistic ideology that arose from his close relationship with Ralph Waldo Emerson and his time spent immersing himself in nature....   [tags: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau]

Strong Essays
1683 words (4.8 pages)

Civil Disobedience: Are We Morally Obliged to Obey Unjust Laws? Essay

- Are we morally obliged to obey even unjust laws. This moral question addresses what we commonly know as civil disobedience. In order to properly discuss civil disobedience and whether or not it is moral to disobey laws, we must first characterize civil disobedience. In Peter Singer's book, Practical Ethics he begins to characterize civil disobedience as arising from "ethical disagreement" and raising the question of whether "to uphold the law, even if the law protects and sanctions things we hold utterly wrong?" (Singer 292)....   [tags: Civil Disobedience Essays]

Strong Essays
1907 words (5.4 pages)