Thoreau’s Text


Thoreau’s essay on Civil Disobedience is of significant value in my life as it presents useful information that I had previously not aware of. In his essay, I believe he is allowing citizens to follow their heart’s desire and make an informed decision that will benefit them regardless of the consequences. This advice is useful since sometimes I tend to concentrate on the possible implications of the decisions that I make instead of executing the idea even if I know that it will help not only me but also other people whom I interact with every day. Thoreau’s view on how individuals should serve the government is crucial in my life. As a citizen in my country, it is my responsibility that I ensure that competent and honest leaders are in the government as they represent individual needs so that they can address citizen’s needs.  Also, it is true that the government may not value reforms especially if it has no significant value to the government officials. It is, therefore, my responsibility as a citizen to advocate for changes to enhance my social and economic status as well as the growth and development of the whole community.

The primary goal of Thoreau’s essay was to make the abolitionists stop supporting government injustices.  I consider self-reliance and individuality to have a significant impact on my life. I have to understand how to efficiently take care of myself before I can rely on the government for their support. It is essential that I make informed choices rather than feeling that I must elect the government officials to represent my needs. There is a possibility that some leaders abuse the office and use the power they derive from the government to implement policies that may affect my life and that of my community negatively. I must ensure that the government official does not take advantage of their position by advocating for fair treatment of citizens.

Pre-reading Questions

Thoreau thinks that a government that allows individuals to make their own choices will be moral. Individuals have the responsibility of voting for competent leaders to become their representatives. Thoreau refuses to abide by the laws that seem to be immoral.

Critical Reading Questions

Thoreau’s intended audience strongly agreed with him as he wrote his essay at the time people had a moral objection towards the government. Thoreau’s relation to justice on a moral view has a significant impact on self-dependence and personal choices. If an individual’s decision has a direct effect on their life, then they are free to exercise civil disobedience (Thoreau & MacLeish, 1946). Thoreau learned that he could still do what he wanted even while in prison as long as he followed his desires. An example of irony used by Thoreau in his argument is that paying taxes keeps an individual out of jail to a society that an individual has not to join (Thoreau & MacLeish, 1946). This statement means that it was unreasonable for him to pay taxes. The government has the ethical responsibility of providing the necessary infrastructures and services to the minority population.

Thoreau holds that it is not necessary to obey a government that is cruel to its people. Individuals must make informed choices on the person they want to lead them which is very appealing. It is essential to note that Thoreau and Lao Tzu argue that morality and moderating government activity are crucial. However, it is unlikely that Lao-Tzu is Thoreau’s philosopher as he emphasizes on the significant benefits of the government by presenting qualities of a leader.

Calendar Questions

When Thoreau says that all voting is a sort of game, he means that it does not matter whether right prevails or not as individuals leave voting to chance for any candidate to win. Yes, it is true as the gaming aspect of voting is that any person can lay out a strategy to win. Thoreau is harsh to voting as people are not serious with their rights to advocate for good governance.




Thoreau, H. D., & MacLeish, A. (1946). Civil disobedience (p. 228). Liberty Library.