American Literature, 2nd hour
14 November 2014
“On the Duty of Civil Disobedience” Analysis Essay
An author of the 1800s, Henry David Thoreau, in his essay, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience,” instills a feeling of power in his readers by discussing the civilians and their government. Thoreau’s purpose is to inform his readers on the ways the government has wronged the people. He wants the readers to feel as if they have been taken advantage of by the government in order to spark anger and rebellion in his intended audience.
Thoreau begins his persuasion of the people to take action in the first line by saying “That government is best which governs least.” This sentence provokes pathos. He continues to do this by, in line 3, saying, “I also believe – That government is best which governs not at all.” He criticizes the government in order to express his disapproval for the way the country is being run. His words create doubt in American citizens as well as instilling a disapproval of their own, beginning a long life of angry feelings.
Thoreau next uses a persuasive term called ‘calling to action’. Thoreau displays this technique by saying things such as, “when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule.” (line 34-35.) The intensity of this line is a reminder that we, the people, hold the power to control the government, even though through society, that idea has been shifted. He calls the reader to stand up to the law, preach what they believe should be