Would You Consider Thoreau to Be a Rebel?

Author Gertrude Brogi

Posted Sep 1, 2022

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Thoreau is often considered a rebel due to his unorthodox lifestyle and beliefs. For instance, he rejected many of the materialistic values of his society, instead choosing to live a simple life in nature. He also believed in civil disobedience, and famously advocated for it in his essay "Resistance to Civil Government". In general, Thoreau seemed to oppose anything that he felt was unjust or constraining, preferring instead to "live free or die".

Given his propensity for challenge social norms and bucking authority, it's no surprise that Thoreau has been viewed as a rebel throughout history. His independent thinking and disregard for conventional wisdom has inspired generations of people who also feel the need to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means going against the grain. In many ways, Thoreau is the epitome of the rebel spirit, and it's likely that he would be proud to know that he is still influencing people to this day.

Why did Thoreau rebel?

Henry David Thoreau was born in 1817 in Massachusetts. His family were Puritans and he was brought up with a strong belief in God. He was a bright child and was sent to Harvard University where he studied philosophy and literature. After graduation, he became a teacher but he didn't like the strict rules and discipline of the school system. He resigned after a short time and decided to live a simple life close to nature.

Thoreau was strongly influenced by the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson believed that humans were intrinsically good and that society corrupted them. Thoreau agreed with this view and believed that humans should live simple lives in harmony with nature. He believed that material possessions were unnecessary and that humans should live simply and in close contact with nature.

This views led Thoreau to rebel against the mainstream view of life. He refused to pay taxes as he felt they supported a government that was involved in slavery and the Mexican-American War. He also refused to vote as he felt that it would legitimize a government that he didn't believe in. He spent a night in jail for his refusal to pay taxes but this only strengthened his resolve.

Thoreau's views were radical for his time but he is now seen as one of the most important thinkers in American history. His ideas about simple living, civil disobedience and the importance of nature continue to inspire people today.

What were some of the things Thoreau rebelled against?

In his essay "Civil disobedience," Thoreau not only called for resistance to unjust government, but also to any authority whose acts went against the conscience. Thoreau's words and deeds were a rebellion against what he considered to be the America's institutionalized injustice and hypocrisy. By Walden Pond, he sought to practice a simple and sustainable lifestyle, one that was in keeping with his transcendentalist beliefs. He criticized materialism andconsumerism, and argued that people should live more simply and in harmony with nature. Thoreau also objected to slavery and the Mexican-American War, and was an early advocate for racial and gender equality. In an era when few white Americans spoke out against such injustice, Thoreau's rebellion was truly ahead of its time.

What were the consequences of Thoreau's rebeliousness?

In 1846, Henry David Thoreau was arrested and jailed for refusing to pay his poll tax in protest of the Mexican-American War and the government's support of slavery. This act of civil disobedience landed him in Concord jail for one night. When he was released, Thoreau vowed never to allow the government to "conquer" him again and became even more committed to his philosophy of civil disobedience. The consequences of Thoreau's rebeliousness included spending a night in jail, becoming more resolute in his political beliefs, and inspiring others to resist unjust laws.

Thoreau's arrest was not a large-scale act of protest, but it did garner some attention. The local newspaper, The Concord Freeman, ran an article about the incident, which spread Thoreau's name and ideas to a wider audience. In the years following his release from jail, Thoreau became increasingly involved in the abolitionist movement and spoke out against the Mexican-American War and the Fugitive Slave Law. His 1849 essay "Resistance to Civil Government" (later renamed "Civil Disobedience") detailed his beliefs about the government's role in society and inspired many people, including future leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, to resist unjust laws.

While the immediate consequences of Thoreau's rebeliousness were spending one night in jail and gaining some notoriety, the long-term consequences were much more far-reaching. Thoreau's act of civil disobedience helped to spark a movement of resistance against unjust laws and paved the way for future generations of activists to fight for social change.

Did Thoreau ever regret his rebeliousness?

No, Thoreau never regretted his rebelliousness. He believed that civil disobedience was the only way to effect change and that government was best when it was small and unobtrusive. He was an early advocate for individual rights and the environment. His beliefs led him to spend a night in jail for refusing to pay a poll tax, an action which he detailed in his essay "Civil Disobedience." This essay inspired people like Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. to use nonviolent civil disobedience to effect change. Thoreau continued to support civil disobedience throughout his life, and he never regretted his decision to rebel against unjust laws.

Frequently Asked Questions

How has the criticism of Thoreau changed over time?

There has been a noticeable shift in the critical opinion of Thoreau over time. Michael Meyer's study, "Several More Lives to Live: Thoreau's Political Reputation In America," reveals that throughout the 1920s and '30s, there was a prevailing view that Thoreau was a subversive thinker who promoted extreme individualism at the expense of society. However, by the 1970s, this perception had shifted markedly in favor of seeing him as an esteemed political philosopher whose ideas have been largely ignored due to their radicalism.

How does Thoreau describe the event and the government?

He describes the event as a revolt against the government and its representation of English society. He also criticizes the use of firearms by the rebels, stating that “the chief means of preserving order was to have disarmed all the people.”

Why is Thoreau considered a rebel?

Thoreau is considered a rebel because he is advocating for the minority of the people. He is also arguing that government is nearly redundant and that people should make known what kind of government they would respect in order to obtain it.

What did Thoreau believe about the government?

Thoreau believed that the government was abusing their right to rule. He also felt that people should decide for themselves whether or not to take another humans life and participate in war efforts.

What is Thoreau's view on democracy?

Thoreau's view on democracy is that it can be a useful tool for effecting change, as long as the people under the democracy are aware of their power and act with moral intent.

Gertrude Brogi

Gertrude Brogi

Writer at CGAA

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Gertrude Brogi is an experienced article author with over 10 years of writing experience. She has a knack for crafting captivating and thought-provoking pieces that leave readers enthralled. Gertrude is passionate about her work and always strives to offer unique perspectives on common topics.

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