The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail Questions and Answers
by Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee

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Can you help me with the following prompt? "Reread the nightmare scene near the end of The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail and describe the main characters and primary events in Henry’s nightmare (pp. 92–96)."

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The nightmare scene in the play The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail is a surrealistic manifestation of Henry David Thoreau's frustrations, thwarted idealism, and yearning for men to act upon their principles.

In the beginning of his dream sequence, Henry shouts to the crowd that Emerson is coming to impart his words on the dignity of the soul and individualism and the evil of slavery and the taxes to support the American-Mexican War, exciting them:

"He's promised to make a statement now. Right here. Can't wait."

But, soon, Lydia Emerson approaches Thoreau and tells him that her husband is not coming. This disappointing news causes Henry to come undone. He declares that he has wasted his time, "almost my identity" by having associated with Waldo. In response to this declamation, Lydian accuses him of having created an ideal out of her husband, rather than having recognized him as a man.

In this hellish dreamscape, the instruments of war are forced upon men. The sky turns red as though with the...

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