AGENDA Thoughts on Cicero? Essay #3: Justice: Due Nov 13 Discussion: Thoreau Bio Rhetorical Strategies Questions for Critical Reading Suggestions for Writing Essay #3: Group discussion
Essay #3: Justice Essay #3 will be in response to either the excerpt from Cicero, Thoreau, or both. Choose your topic from "Suggestions for Writing" on pages 129-30, prompts 1-9 or on pages 157-58 prompts 1-6. The prompts are also listed on the website. It should be a least one page long but not longer than two pages (excluding a works cited page). It should be formatted MLA style. It is due November 13 (Next Tuesday)
Get into your groups Spend 10 minutes preparing for our discussion. If you are not in a group, please see me.
BiographyWhat do youknow aboutHenry David Thoreau?
Thoreau: A Brief Biography• Essayist, poet, and Transcendentalist• Born to a pencil maker in Concord, Mass. July 12, 1817• Went to Concord Academy and then to Harvard• Loved the outdoors• Best known for his book Walden• Once went to chapel in a green coat “because the rules required black”• Refused to pay his poll tax• He died at 44 from tuberculosis
Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Other important transcendentalists were Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Theodore Parker. Stimulated by English and German Romanticism, the Biblical criticism of Herder, and the skepticism of Hume, the transcendentalists operated with the sense that a new era was at hand. They were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and urged that each person find, in Emersons words, “an original relation to the universe.” Emerson and Thoreau sought this relation in solitude amidst nature, and in their writing. By the 1840s, they were engaged in the social experiments of Brook Farm, Fruitlands, and Walden; and, by the 1850s in an increasingly urgent critique of American slavery.
Thoreau uses balanced Thoreau uses a metaphor to sentence structure to suggest that democratic emphasize the ways that a government, as it exists in his supposedly democratic and day, is actually a sham: representative government can be corrupted through the “It is a sort of wooden gun to influence of powerful persons: the people themselves.” “[Government] has not the In other words, Thoreau vitality and force of a single suggests that government gives living man; for a single man people the mere illusion of power can bend it to his will.” while actually leaving them powerless.The rhetorical question, "Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, orshall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, orshall we transgress them at once? ..... Why is it not more apt to anticipate andprovide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry andresist before it is hurt?
First-person narration allows Thoreau personifies the State "asThoreau to frame a complex and a lone woman with her silverabstract political issue in a voice that spoons." He casts government notpersonally bears witness to the as a mechanical agent of injusticehuman effects and consequences of but as a feminized object of pity.government oppression. While During his stay in prison, Thoreauconfident in his conviction that comes to the realization that, farslavery is morally wrong, Thoreau from being a formidable brutegenerally avoids dogmatic, force, government is in fact weakauthoritative statements in favor of a and morally pathetic. That he shouldmore tentative, moderate first-person choose the figure of a woman tovoice. He prefers cautious make this point reveals anformulations such as "This, then, is interestingly gendered conception ofmy position at present" over more civil disobedience, given themilitant, definitive ones that might constant emphasis on the virtues ofalienate or put his reader on the men in relation to the State, heredefensive. personified as a woman.
Chiasmus “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison” Allusion He utilizes techniques such "But almost all say that such as repetition to emphasize is not the case now. But such certain points (Anaphora). was the case, they think, in "It does not keep the the Revolution of 75. If one country free. It does not were to tell me that this was settle the West. It does not a bad government because it educate” taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its Analogy ports, it is most probable that "If I have unjustly wrested I should not make an ado a plank from a drowning about it, for I can do without man, I must restore it to them." him though I drown myself.”
Paradox • Aphorism: • “the progress from an “It is truly enough said, that a absolute to a limited corporation has no monarchy, from a limited conscience; but a monarchy to a democracy, is corporation of conscientious a progress toward a true men is a corporation with a respect for the individual” • “If a plant cannot live conscience.” according to its nature it dies and so a man.”
What kind of government does Thoreau feel would be most just?
• “That government is best which governs least” (137).• “…I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government”
What is the individual‟s responsibility regardingsupporting the government when it is wrong?
“It is not man‟s duty, as a matter of course,to devote himself to the eradication ofany…wrong; he may still properly have otherconcerns to engage him; but it is his duty, atleast, to wash his hands of it, and, if hegives it no thought longer, not to give itpractically his support. If I devote myself toother pursuits and contemplations, I mustfirst see, at least, that I do not pursue themsitting upon another man‟s shoulders. I mustget off him first, that he may pursue hiscontemplations too.”
“Under a government which imprisonsany unjustly, the true place for a justman is also a prison…. Cast your wholevote, not a strip of paper merely, butyour whole influence.”
“Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obeythem, or shall we endeavor to amend them, andobey them until we have succeeded, or shall wetransgress them at once? Men generally, undersuch a government as this, think that they ought towait until they have persuaded the majority to alterthem. They think that, if they should resist, theremedy would be worse than the evil. But it is thefault of the government itself that the remedy isworse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it notmore apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Whydoes it not cherish its wise minority?”
“If a government is maintaining unjust laws,people should at once effectually withdrawtheir support, both in person and property,from the government. They should “not waittill they constitute a majority of one, beforethey suffer the right to prevail through them. Ithink that it is enough if they have God ontheir side, without waiting for that other one.Moreover, any man more right than hisneighbors constitutes a majority of onealready.”
“…if one thousand, if on hundred, if ten menwhom I could name,—if ten honest men only,—ay, if one HONEST man, in this State ofMassachusetts, ceasing to hold slaves, wereactually to withdraw from thiscopartnership, and be locked up in thecounty jail therefore, it would be theabolition of slavery in America. For itmatters not how small the beginning mayseem to be: what is once well done is doneforever. But we love better to talk about it:that we say is our mission.
How would youcharacterize the tone of Thoreau‟s address?Is he chastising his audience? Is he praising it? What opinion do you think he has of his audience?
Explain what Thoreau means whenhe says, “But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.”
How is injustice “part of the necessary friction of themachine of government?”
Why does Thoreau provide us with“the whole history of „My Prisons‟”? Describe what being in jail taughtThoreau. Why do you think Thoreau reacted so strongly to being in a local jail for a single day?
Choose an example ofThoreau‟s use of irony, and comment on its effectiveness.
How might Thoreau view theresponsibility of the majority toa minority within the sphere of government?
How clear are Thoreau‟sconcepts of justice? On what are they based?
Is it possible that when Thoreau mentions “the Chinese philosopher" he means Lao-tzu? Would Lao-tzu agree that the individual is “the basis of the empire”?
• Get into your teams• Discuss the essay questions• Choose one to answer Justice
Remember: Include a thesis statement for your essay Respond to all parts of the prompt Choose an original title Include a works cited page Use MLA style formatting (TNR 12) Include page numbers after quotations Post #27 Essay #3 (1-2 pages). Choose your topic from "Suggestions for Writing" pages 129-30, prompts 1-9 or pages 157- 58, prompts 1-6HOMEWORK
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