In The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, discuss how you feel about Henry's non- conformity.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Henry's non- conformity is one of the most distinct and passionate character traits revealed in the drama.  It is Henry's zeal in respecting his own voice and standing apart from the social realm that makes him such a unique character.  I think that his non- conformity is what makes him so compelling.  Part of this reason is because Thoreau's lack of conformity is contrasted with Emerson's own willingness to succumb to public opinion.  Seeing that both men believed in the theories of Transcendentalism and Romantic thought, Thoreau's lack of conformity stands in complete opposition to Emerson's willingness to seek public adulation and praise.  Thoreau's lack of conformity comes across as a commitment to his beliefs and his value system.  This is something that Emerson notably lacks.  It is for this reason that I think Thoreau's stance against conforming against a social order that is wrong is what makes him such a compelling character.  This position is what enables him to embrace a higher plane of social activism at the end of the drama, only enhancing his beliefs and commitment to them.

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