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Thoreau Essay Sample


Different times demand specific skills and provoke various attitudes. People tend to adjust even to the harshest environment, whether it is social or natural. The humanity by nature usually acts as a unit. In other words, the community follows a leader who has the inner power to manage the crowd of people and organize different social, political, and economic processes. Regarding the human development, it should be mentioned that the social evolution in many cases supposes the presence of the leading team that manages the country and society. Usually, members of the society are legally obedient and do not break the rules. Nevertheless, some people act against the system for different reasons. They are out of favor in the community and mostly are punished. Henry David Thoreau, a famous American essayist, poet, and philosopher is a prominent representative of the people who try to think differently from the whole community. In his work “Civil Disobedience,” which originally was published under the name “Resistance to Civil Government,” he draws the readers’ attention to the problems of the society managed by the government.

The Thoreau’s essay is worth attention and favoring due to its ideas concerning the type of the government that does not interfere in the personal life of a person. The beginning of the essay is noted with the words “That government is best which governs least” (Thoreau). The idea of the chosen government lies in the performing the activity respecting the interests of the society. The author with these words tries to emphasize that several people use the current government in order to fulfill their own ambitions. Therefore, Thoreau does not see the necessity to be obedient and follow all the government’s directions. Besides, the writer supports the idea of some improvement for the government. His words concerning the mentioned issue, “I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government,” prove his attitude (Thoreau).

Another issue raised by Thoreau and worth appreciation is that every person must have his or her own point of view and be responsible for his or her own doings. According to the author, members of the society should be thinking people, not just bodies. People should not be tools in the hands of the government; moreover, Thoreau compares such people with the wood, earth, or stones, which may be manufactured due to the purpose; these people have no respect to themselves and may be treated as horses and dogs (Thoreau). This idea of self-estimation is always important and essential, and it does not depend on the century or community’s organization. It may be applied to the modern society as well since many people blindly follow the government directions without even an attempt to understand the situation.

The ideas of Thoreau may be considered challenging and such that call for a revolution. He supports the very notion of revolution in case the government does not perform its activity in a proper way. In other words, people should not follow unjust laws. The author claims that the person’s life must be a counter-friction to stop the machine of government in case of injustice (Thoreau). The idea of Thoreau lies in the extirpation of injustice at every level of the social ladder. His point is valuable at any time due to its morality and rightfulness. He sees the root of the problems and offers to stop doing wrong things. Essentially, the understanding and distinguishing bad and right things can help behave in accordance with the situation. The author also states that sometimes it is necessary to be harsh in order to defend the personal attitude.

Considering the value of the Thoreau’s ideas for the society and a separate member of the community, it should be mentioned that some of his points might disturb the social pattern. The author’s attitude to the government is rather radical. For example, his words that the best government is that one which governs least may be treated from different points of view (Thoreau). Concerning the author’s attitude to the proper government and his suggestion to improve the governmental activity, these words bear more negative than positive attitude. This idea calls for a revolution because of the government’s work. Consequently, the idea of revolution itself is dangerous for the community, as the results can appear rather unpredictable and unsatisfied. Besides, the society has to be managed and directed by some leader or leading organization. Therefore, the Thoreau’s statement may be considered the cause of anarchism.

One more idea stated by Thoreau that may negatively affect the society and a separate person in particular is his attitude to the taxation. Taxation is one of the fundamental issues of the economy. The proper organization of the taxation system may benefit all the members of the developed society. Nevertheless, the author says that he does not understand the necessity to be taxed in order to support the priest or the need to tax priest in order to support the schoolmaster (Thoreau). According to Thoreau, any person has to supply himself or herself and does not need to give the earned money to the state. Though the author’s intentions are clear, it should be mentioned that he does not consider the interactions among members of the society. In other words, taxation helps solve problems with disabled members of the community. In case of hoary age or illness, the taxation system allows  providing the necessary help and support to the people in need. Following the Thoreau’s idea, every member of the society should not rely on the other members and should not wait for any help from the state. This point is wrong due to the community nature that supposes the interconnections and interactions.

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To conclude, Henry Davis Thoreau is a famous American essayist, poet, and philosopher whose essay “Civil Disobedience,” which originally was published under the name “Resistance to Civil Government,” raises such social issues as injustice, people’s arrogance, and attitude of the government to the community. The author claims that it is better to have the government that governs least. This idea may be treated from different points of view; however, it sounds rather radical and may be considered the call for a revolution. The Thoreau’s ideas may affect the society and a separate person in both positive and negative ways. Among positive points, there is the ability to think over the situation without blind following of the government’s directions and management. He claims that being an individual is essential. Besides, Thoreau states that people should not stand any injustice but should make necessary efforts to stop the machine of the government in case of an inappropriate activity. The society should not forget that the community chooses the government. Therefore, people should not be treated as the government’s tools in the process of fulfilling its ambitions. Nevertheless, there are some ideas that may be dangerous for the social unit. Primarily, Thoreau claims that the least government participates in the process of country management, the better people feel. This idea may lead to anarchism. Another Thoreau's point that should be judged is his attitude to the taxpaying. The author denies the necessity of taxation, supporting this idea with the statement that he should not support a priest, for example. Unfortunately, Thoreau does not take into consideration the connections and interactions among the members of the society.

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