The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

by Jerome Lawrence, Robert E. Lee

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From The Night Thoreau Spent In Jail, Which aspect of Thoreau's characterization seems especially contemporary?

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Given the level of public outrage at government, I would say that Thoreau's insistence on public activism would be one element that is highly relevant in the modern setting.  When the play ends with Thoreau committed to move his activism to "the next level," one is immediately reminded of someone from the Tea Party or the Occupy Wall Street Movement.  In this, Thoreau's unflinching ability to stand for his beliefs and against that of the conventional and conformist norm is immediately relevant to today.  Throughout the economic crisis, I think that one consistent element over the last two to three years has been the level of public activism.  People are using technology and social activism to ensure that their voices are heard.  Even going back to the 2008 Presidential Election, the number of grass- roots volunteers who did what was needed to get their voice our and ensure that then- Senator Obama was elected was remarkable.  In this, Thoreau's commitment to ensuring that he "do something" and not simply remain silent or passive, like Emerson, can be seen as one immediate relevant contemporary element to his character.

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