Published on February 20, 2014
AGENDA Review: Thoughts on Cicero? Essay #3: Justice: Due Friday, Week 8 before noon. Discussion: Thoreau Bio Rhetorical Strategies Questions for Critical Reading QHQ Thoreau Suggestions for Writing Essay #3
Thoughts on or Questions about Cicero?
Review: Essay #3: Justice Essay #3 will be in response to either the excerpt from Cicero, Thoreau, or both. Choose your topic from "Suggestions for Writing" on pages 129-30, prompts 1-9 or on pages 157-58 prompts 1-6. The prompts are also listed on the website. It should be a least two pages long but not longer than three pages (excluding a works cited page). It should be formatted MLA style. It is due Friday, Week 8, at noon.
Please get out paper and pencil for a on Thoreau
Biography What do you know about Henry David Thoreau?
Thoreau: A Brief Biography • • • • • • Essayist, poet, and Transcendentalist Born to a pencil maker in Concord, Mass. July 12, 1817 Went to Concord Academy and then to Harvard Loved the outdoors Best known for his book Walden Once went to chapel in a green coat “because the rules required black” • Refused to pay his poll tax • He died at 44 from tuberculosis
Transcendentalism is an American literary, political, and philosophical movement of the early nineteenth century, centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalists were critics of their contemporary society for its unthinking conformity, and they urged that each person find, in Emerson's words, “an original relation to the universe.” Emerson and Thoreau sought this relation in solitude amidst nature and in their writing. By the 1840s, they were engaged in the social experiments of Brook Farm, Fruitlands, and Walden; and, by the 1850s in an increasingly urgent critique of American slavery.
Get into your groups Spend 10 minutes preparing for our discussion: rhetorical strategies and “Questions for Critical Reading”: (page 157) 1. What kind of government does Thoreau feel would be most just? 1. What is the individual‟s responsibility regarding supporting the government when it is wrong? 2. How does Thoreau deal with unjust laws?
Thoreau uses balanced sentence structure to emphasize the ways that a supposedly democratic and representative government can be corrupted through the influence of powerful persons: “[Government] has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will.” Thoreau uses a metaphor to suggest that democratic government, as it exists in his day, is actually a sham: “It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves.” In other words, Thoreau suggests that government gives people the mere illusion of power while actually leaving them powerless. The rhetorical question, "Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? ..... Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt?
First-person narration allows Thoreau to frame a complex and abstract political issue in a voice that personally bears witness to the human effects and consequences of government oppression. While confident in his conviction that slavery is morally wrong, Thoreau generally avoids dogmatic, authoritative statements in favor of a more tentative, moderate first-person voice. He prefers cautious formulations such as "This, then, is my position at present" over more militant, definitive ones that might alienate or put his reader on the defensive. Thoreau personifies the State "as a lone woman with her silver spoons." He casts government not as a mechanical agent of injustice but as a feminized object of pity. During his stay in prison, Thoreau comes to the realization that, far from being a formidable brute force, government is in fact weak and morally pathetic. That he should choose the figure of a woman to make this point reveals an interestingly gendered conception of civil disobedience, given the constant emphasis on the virtues of men in relation to the State, here personified as a woman.
Chiasmus “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is in prison” Allusion "But almost all say that such is not the case now. But such was the case, they think, in the Revolution of '75. If one were to tell me that this was a bad government because it taxed certain foreign commodities brought to its ports, it is most probable that I should not make an ado about it, for I can do without them." He utilizes techniques such as repetition to emphasize certain points (Anaphora). "It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate” Analogy "If I have unjustly wrested a plank from a drowning man, I must restore it to him though I drown myself.”
Rhetorical Strategies Paradox “It is truly enough said, that a corporation has no conscience; but a corporation of conscientious men is a corporation with a conscience.” • Aphorism: • “the progress from an absolute to a limited monarchy, from a limited monarchy to a democracy, is a progress toward a true respect for the individual” • “If a plant cannot live according to its nature it dies and so a man.”
Questions for Critical Reading
How would you characterize the tone of Thoreau‟s address? Is he chastising his audience? Is he praising it? What opinion do you think he has of his audience?
Explain what Thoreau means when he says, “But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.”
How is injustice “part of the necessary friction of the machine of government?”
Why does Thoreau provide us with “the whole history of „My Prisons‟”? Describe what being in jail taught Thoreau. Why do you think Thoreau reacted so strongly to being in a local jail for a single day?
Choose an example of Thoreau‟s use of irony, and comment on its effectiveness.
Thoreau found it ironic to involuntarily pay money to a society which he “has not joined,” and to threatened for resisting orders. Some years ago, the State met me in behalf of the Church, and commanded me to pay a certain sum toward the support of a clergyman whose preaching my father attended, but never I myself. "Pay," it said, "or be locked up in the jail." I declined to pay (page 9/14).
How might Thoreau view the responsibility of the majority to a minority within the sphere of government?
“It is not a man's duty, as a matter of course, to devote himself to the eradication of any, even the most enormous, wrong; he may still properly have other concerns to engage him; but it is his duty, at least, to wash his hands of it, and, if he gives it no thought longer, not to give it practically his support.”
Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men, generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to put out its faults, and do better than it would have them? Why does it always crucify Christ and excommunicate Copernicus and Luther, and pronounce Washington and Franklin rebels? Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.
How clear are Thoreau‟s concepts of justice? On what are they based?
Is it possible that when Thoreau mentions “the Chinese philosopher" he means Lao-tzu? Would Laotzu agree that the individual is “the basis of the empire”?
Thoreau QHQ Discussion
Q: Why does Thoreau say that the people who disagree and countermeasure the actions of the government are the most patriotic? Q: Why does Thoreau assert men are incapable of making intelligent decisions on justice or fairness in his work? Q: Why does Thoreau feel free even when he is in prison? Q: To what extent does Thoreau believe we should take our civil disobedience? Is it worth putting ourselves in harm‟s way to support our own beliefs? Q: Could anyone have easily followed Thoreau‟s suggestions to remove themselves from the society as he did himself?
Q: Where does Thoreau‟s sense of true justice come from? Q: How does Thoreau relate to and differ from Laotzu? Q: Going back to The Defense of Injustice, Philus gave the example of how if a man had the right to choose on being a slave or the master, any man would rather be the master. Would Thoreau truly stick to his principles if he were given this choice? Q: How do Cicero‟s and Thoreau‟s ideas of justice differ ?
• In teams, discuss the essay questions from "Suggestions for Writing" pages 129-30, prompts 19 or pages 157-58, prompts 1-6 • Choose one to answer Justice
Remember: Include a thesis statement for your essay Respond to all parts of the prompt Choose an original title Include a works cited page Use MLA style formatting (TNR 12) Include page numbers after quotations HOMEWORK Essay #3 (2-3 pages): Choose your topic from "Suggestions for Writing" pages 129-30, prompts 1-9 or pages 157-58, prompts 1-6 Post #27 The introduction and thesis for Essay #3 Post #28 QHQ: How can we apply the philosophy of Cicero and/or Thoreau to A Game of Thrones? Make sure to include textual support in your post.
1. AGENDA Review: Thoughts on Cicero? Essay #3: Justice: Due Friday, Week 8 before noon. Discussion: Thoreau Bio Rhetorical Strategies Questions ...
AGENDA Review: Thoughts on Cicero? Essay #3: Justice: Due Friday, Week 8 before noon. Discussion: Thoreau Bio Rhetorical Strategies ...
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