Walden Essay By Henry David Thoreau Essay On Kate Chopin
The fundamental problem with government is that it takes on a life of its own, becoming, in Thoreau’s central metaphor in the essay, a machine that then attempts to treat individual men as machines lacking in thought or conscience. I must get off him first, that he may pursue his contemplations too.” Much of his critique is aimed at his many neighbors who ostensibly oppose slavery and the U.
In articulating his more specific focus, he grounds his critique in American political thought, recalling the Revolution in order to contend that “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable.” While he seems to suggest that any violation of one’s sense of justice by the government would validate resisting the state by withholding one’s allegiance or by refusing to pay taxes, his argument largely relegates such extreme acts to only the most severe violation of right. S.-Mexican War but do little in actuality to stop the federal government from continuing as it has and, in supporting the government, actually further the injustices they claim to oppose, thus “practically” giving their support.
While Emerson’s influence can be felt in many of Thoreau’s writings, their relationship was not always easy and Thoreau departs from Emerson in significant ways.Also unlike Emerson, who would achieve great fame as a lecturer and essayist, Thoreau would remain relatively obscure during his lifetime, even as he circulated among the most important literary circles of his age.was an infamous publishing failure—fewer than 300 of the original edition of 1000 books sold—but it helped to establish Thoreau’s ability to weave philosophical insights and meditations, commentary on nature and history, into a narrative structure.He advises us to let certain injustices go: “If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it go, let it go.” And he makes it clear that he is not calling upon his fellow citizens to engage in a crusade to eliminate all evil: “It is not a man’s duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous wrong.” Thoreau’s point is not that slavery and what he—and many others—saw as an imperialistic war are wrong. It is here that he dismisses voting as an empty gesture because the voter does not fully invest himself in the outcome of the vote.There’s much evil in the world, and it is beyond our capacity to eliminate it all. This is where civil disobedience becomes necessary, for the individual must make his “life a counter friction to stop the machine” of injustice by attempting to clog up the wheels of the government’s machinery: “Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.” If each person who thought slavery or the U.This faith in the individual’s ability to conduct himself properly through the use of an inner moral sense provides the foundation for the fundamentally anarchistic position Thoreau articulates at the beginning of the essay—“‘That government is best which governs not at all;’ and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.” Thoreau returns to his hope for a state that will all but cease to exist at the end of the essay and describes his ability and desire to escape contact with the government as much as possible, concluding his inserted history of his night in prison by recounting a huckleberry picking expedition that led him into nature where “the State was nowhere to be seen.” Yet much of the essay takes a more practical approach to the realities of the government in the antebellum U.S., with Thoreau even recognizing it as doing some good, as when he acknowledges paying the “highway tax:” “to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but a better government.” As much as Thoreau bases his radical individualism and anarchist tendencies in his transcendentalist philosophy, then, he is most concerned with the specific American government of his time and its policies. I must first see, at least, that I do not pursue [my pursuits] sitting upon another man’s shoulders.Written during his time at Walden Pond, the book ostensibly chronicles the trip Thoreau and his brother John took in 1839.But Thoreau uses their journey both to mourn and remember his brother and to explore the philosophical and social questions at the core of his thought, the relationship between the self and nature, the history of Euro-American exploitation of American nature and its native inhabitants, and the connection between specific locales and times and the eternal and the universal.Specifically, in his eulogistic essays on John Brown, following his failed attempt at provoking a slave rebellion in Virginia, Thoreau celebrated Brown’s ability to stir Northerners from their slumber, as “He has liberated many thousands of slaves, both North and South.” This figuring of his fellow Northerners as slaves—as enslaved to the system of slavery specifically and to social norms more broadly—connects this later apology for violence to “Resistance” where he similarly opines that slavery could only be abolished by voting when society has become “indifferent” to it and the voters themselves “will then be the only slaves.” As his more explicitly political writings frequently speak of his fellow citizens as slaves for their continuing support of slavery, similarly equates those who “lead lives of quiet desperation” in which they have “no time to be any thing but a machine” to being “slave-driver[s]” of themselves.If slavery and industrialization provide the most prominent contexts for Thoreau’s critique, Nature provides the antidote for these moral and social ailments.