Civil Disobedience Questions and Answers
In "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau says that "any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already." What does he mean by this?
Why was Thoreau put in jail, and what were his feelings about the government while he was in jail in "Civil Disobedience"?
Which of the three appeals dominates in paragraph 21, where Thoreau gives the government a human face, in "Civil Disobedience" by Henry David Thoreau?
What did Thoreau learn from his night in jail (paragraphs 26–35)? Explain using specific references to the text.
What is Thoreau hinting at in "Civil Disobedience" when he says that the “remedy is worse than the evil”? Why does he condemn the men who do not take action because they are not part of a majority?
Explain this quote ¨Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate¨
When Thoreau accepted release from jail did he become just like the people he critcized? I refer to those who opposed the Mexican War and expansion of slavery but supported it indirectly with their tax money? Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
Note how Thoreau qualifies his argument in paragraph 40 of "Civil Disobedience"; how does using this rhetorical strategy serve his purpose?
How does the author's use of rhetorical questions contribute to the persuasiveness and message in the story?
What are some arguments that disagree with Thoreau's thoughts in "Civil Disobedience"? Thoreau says that if our conscience doesn't agree with the law, we should go against it by breaking the law. What are some arguments that disagree with that?
From what you know about American Romanticism, would you say that Thoreau's assumptions and values revealed in this essay are fundamentally Romantic?
Explain what Thoreau thinks is wrong with majority rule in "Civil Disobedience." What does he say is the only obligation he has a right to assume?
In paragraph 20, Thoreau states that "any man more right than his neighbors constitutes a majority of one already." What does he mean by this? How does this support his thesis?
What does Thoreau mean in "Civil Disobedience" when he says, "Can there not be a government in which majorities do not virtually decide right and wrong, but conscience?—in which majorities decide only those questions to which the rule of expediency is applicable? Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator?”
In "Civil Disobedience," how does Thoreau suggest people can contribute to improving the government?
According to Thoreau in "Civil Disobedience," "Government is at best, but an expedient." What does he mean by the word "expedient"? Provide at least two concrete examples of government fulfilling this role in today’s society.
In "Civil Disobedience," how are Thoreau's perceptions of his fellow citizens changed by his night in jail?
What is Thoreau's message about materialism and wealth, and how is he critical of the rich in this essay? How do his views (of materialism) compare to today's world?
How does this outlook relate to his experience in the woods and to his overall view of how life should be lived?
What point is Thoreau making by telling us he got his shoes fixed and led the huckleberry party on the day he was released?
Thoreau provides us with a detailed account of his imprisonment. What is the ethical lesson that Thoreau learned in prison and expresses in "Civil Disobedience"?
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