Hey everyone. It’s getting close–finals time, kinda!
So for your final reading assignment (which lead up to the final, obviously, which will be worth the final 25% of your final grade), please read Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”, (original title was “Resistance to Civil Government”) and “A Plea for for Captain John Brown”. They are two VERY different versions of Thoreau’s view on politics, and I want you to pay close attention to how Thoreau changes between the two different essays. In the first, he was still closely allied with Emerson, and was (as Emerson was) incredibly passive in his rhetoric (that essay heavily influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. and also Gandhi, amongst many others), while the latter essay influenced a more active group of social activists (Malcolm X among them). People remember the first essay FAR more than the second, and I want to see what you think of each.
It would help A LOT to do some research on John Brown and what he is known for, and to try to make sense of why and how the Thoreau of Civil Disobedience became the Thoreau of John Brown. One thing about John Brown is that people say his actions are what started the Civil War. So, read them both; and then get ready for the final!
Hello everyone. I hope everyone is well and that you enjoyed the readings this semester. This will be your final paper of the semester, and will make up the final 25% of your overall grade. I hope that you enjoyed reading “Civil Disobedience” and “A Plea for Captain John Brown,” and I hope that you were able to do a bit of research about the happenings that made Thoreau write the John Brown essay.
In a 3-5 page paper (double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. font, 1″ margins all around), I want you to write a paper that discusses the changes of philosophy that Thoreau went through between the time he wrote “Resistance to Civil Government” (“Civil Disobedience”) and “A Plea for Captain John Brown.” As you know, the former essay is contextualized around passivity while the latter essay is contextualized around aggression (In “John Brown” Thoreau, some have said, argues for the morality of murder). Why, in your opinion, did Thoreau go through such a dramatic change? Use both of these essays to help argue your point(s), and discuss the specifics of both–that is, did the happenings in the first essay deserve passivity, and did the happenings in the second essay deserve aggression? Why? What was happing in America that made Thoreau act as the social activist in these specific, and differing ways?
Be very, very specific. The more specific and detailed the better.
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