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The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail
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The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail

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  • 1. The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Essay
    Paige Eastman
    Per.5 12-12-09
    Following one’s conscience is harder than it seems, but not for Henry in the play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail by Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee. Henry was a man of conscience, which is a person who is willing to do anything for their beliefs or what they believe is right. Henry in this play showed in many ways he was a man of conscience. Some of them are when he quit as a teacher due to having to perform coral punishment, when he refused to pray, when he declined to pay his taxes and lastly when he stayed in jail so his friend could get a trial.
    Henry Thoreau was a man of conscience, commonly known as transcendentalist. One way he showed this was when he told Mr. Ball he was renouncing his job. The reason behind him renouncing his position was, Mr. Ball told Henry he must teach his students/”subordinates” obedience by using corporal punishment. This was what he said when he quit:
    ”—has administrated the Sacrament of the Schoolroom; and he resigns as a “teacher” in the Public Schools of Concord!” (Lawrence & Lee 24)
    This brings to light that after Henry did what he was told he felt it wasn’t right, so he resigned from being a teacher. This proved that he would follow his conscious, even though he would be out of a job. Also, he would no longer favored by a powerful man and most of society.
    Before this time Henry’s brother just died from lockjaw/tetanus, from nicking himself with a rusty razorblade, and Henry witnessed everything that happened to lead up to his brother’s death. After John’s funeral Henry said to his mother:
    “I understand! God has stopped listening Mother—if He ever did listen. What kind of God would fail to see the godliness of John? I can’t pray to Him Mother.” (Lawrence & Lee 49)
    This quote confirmed Henry’s previous beliefs of there being no God, despite what was commonly believed throughout society. He blatantly refused to conform to something he didn’t believe, and to top it off in a church.
    Henry was given a court order to pay his taxes. He then refused to let anyone else pay for his taxes, and folded up the order and put it in his shoe. Henry then gets taken to jail, and preceded to give the jailer a hard time. To the jailer he said:
    “Sam. It’s very simple. What this government of this country is doing turns my stomach! And if I keep my mouth shut, I’m a criminal. To my Conscience. To my God. To Society. And to you, Sam Staples. You want a dollar from me? If I don’t approve the way that dollar is spent, you’re not getting it!”
    He refused to pay his taxes as a way to rebel in what he believed was unfair of the government. His taxes though were later paid by his aunt.
    Shockingly, when his bail was paid he refused to leave because Bailey had not been to trial. He then threatened to never leave the jail until, Bailey had his trial. This is what he said to the jailer:
    “It means if you see to it that Bailey gets his trial—not in another three months, or another three weeks, but now, right away—why, then maybe I’ll favor your law by walking out onto the sidewalk. Not before”
    This proved that based on his conscious and morals, he was willing to endure jail for the rest of his life to see to a friend brought to justice, by having a fair trial, hence showing he is a man of conscious.
    In conclusion, Henry is a man of conscience. Proven by his words and action when he renounced himself from teaching due to corporal punishment, refused to pray at his brother’s funeral for he didn’t believe in God, and when he denied paying his taxes to rebel against the government, and by staying in jail to help a friend. As one can see being a man of conscious seemed to come easily to Henry but, it may be harder for others today in modern society considering, most people live day to day in a blur of constant routine and following.