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Staying True to Beliefs

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Anna Nations

Mrs. Lee

English III: Period 1

26 October 2018

Staying True to Beliefs

In the 1840’s, resistance to the civic government started as the abolitionist, Henry David Thoreau, spent the night in jail for refusing to pay his taxes. Thoreau stood by ideas that individual citizens should not allow governments to force them to disregard their own beliefs for the good of the state. This was published in the essay Civil Disobedience written by Thoreau himself. He explains this idea of keeping moral responsibility to question the government with many rhetorical techniques, like a metaphor, imagery, and antithesis.

Thoreau appeals to logic with the use of a metaphor. He demonstrates that “All machines have their friction…” Here, Thoreau is using the idea of machines as a metaphor for the government. He uses this to help the audience understand the government by considering it from a different perspective. At this point in history, a machine was still considered to be something unique, powerful, and even mysterious-much like the government. He is persuading the audience that while all machines have “friction”, they do not have to be a part of the problems in the government, but can instead be a part of a solution. He is trying to convince that they can make a difference.

Another strategy used in his excerpt is the use of imagery. He creates an image of refuge of liberty and contrast with the idea of members of the population being enslaved. Thoreau claims, “In other words, when a sixth of the population of a nation which has undertaken to be the refuge of liberty are slaves…” His purpose here is to remind the audience that America was to be a ‘refuge of liberty’, a safe place, and perhaps it has been for them but it has not been for the slaves. The purpose is to remind the audience of the larger aspirations of the nation and their duty to one another. Thoreau uses the detail 1/6th

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