Messages And Metaphors In Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience

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Henry David Thoreau, in his essay “Civil Disobedience” argues that American citizens should not be loath to disobey their corrupt and useless government, using metaphor as a rhetorical device to prove his point and provide a call to action for readers. In the essay, Thoreau describes the government as a corrupt, immoral, and often useless agent, and strongly criticizes the American population for following it so blindly. He encourages readers to act in protest of their unjust government, urging them to act with their consciences and not based on what the law dictates; he also insists that they engage in civil disobedience, and refuse to pay certain taxes. By using metaphor in the essay, Thoreau makes the piece more readable and relatable, …show more content…
While majority is a major tenet of democracy, it is flawed because the largest and strongest group is not necessarily the most just. Therefore, government policies and federal and state laws are a cesspool of injustice and iniquity. The government imposes itself on its citizens, leading to immoral citizens with an undue respect for a corrupt system. Instead, Thoreau argues, citizens should use their consciences and not blindly follow the government; they should make decisions based on moral codes and not legal …show more content…
He writes that he tries to give as little thought as possible to the government. Thoreau still believes that the government can improve; he gives credit to the Constitution, the law, the courts, and even the government, nothing that these are all things for which to be grateful. Democracy, though, is not the final step of achieving an ideal government; once the government realizes and values the role of the individual and his or her power, and treats him or her with the required respect, it will be able to advance and change for the better. To concretize his point and make it relatable to readers, Thoreau uses metaphor, a rhetorical device that compares two objects, to prove a point. In “Civil Disobedience”, he employs this device in order to prove a point about the government; by comparing the government to objects, Thoreau subtly acknowledges its incompetence and uselessness. The imagery he provides by using metaphor makes the essay something that people can relate to, and intends to inspire readers to not only read the essay, but also take action based on what Thoreau

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