In the drama, what was Thoreau's view on activism?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that Thoreau's view of activism is present throughout the drama.  I think that he shows a level of change in terms of how activism should look as the drama unfolds.  He is in jail because of activism, in terms of not paying his taxes towards a government conducting a war that is, in his view, unjust.  He is committed to this end and for the most part, Act I shows him to be fighting this battle in a localized form in terms of his life in Walden and in the jail.  Yet, I think that his view on activism becomes more profound as the drama progresses to what could be seen as its climax and resolution.  Thoreau might not like or care for the fact that his aunt pays the taxes for him to be out of jail.  However, he understands that with his freedom, he must take his activism to a more committed and wider level than simply remaining at Walden.  He recognizes that his activism and commitment to his ideals drives him to have to leave Walden and seek to create change on a wider level, something where more people can be reached.  In this, one can see how activism is something that must be acted upon in a frame of reference that embraces more people and incorporates more individuals into its frame of reference.  While he does seek to inspire others to action, the end of the drama shows Thoreau in recognizing that his own activism must represent his own sense of belief and faith in the authenticity of his own convictions and beliefs.  In this, activism is shown to be something that is broader and, while rooted in subjectivity, cannot remain in the realm of the personal.

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The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail

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