What is the tone of Thoreau's "Civil Disobedience"?

Expert Answers info

teachsuccess eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Additionally, the tone of Thoreau's work is persuasive, purposeful, and indignant. Thoreau argues that matters of justice should be decided by individual conscience rather than by majority consensus. He contends that all who become obsessed with the letter of the law will eventually discard common sense and conscience. Thoreau cites the example of soldiers who are given little latitude to exercise personal judgment in matters of war. These soldiers are compelled to obey, as if they are mere horses or dogs.

Thoreau's main argument is that every individual has a right to ignore "unjust laws." He is appalled that a government based on majority rule should have the authority to compel absolute obedience from individuals. Thoreau purposefully lays out his argument in support of individual rebellion in his essay. He fervently supports the motto "That government is best which governs least," and he invites all abolitionists to pull their support from the government of Massachusetts for its...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 567 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write16,848 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

check Approved by eNotes Editorial