English 2H06 Lecture November 15 (Thoreau intro)
Resistance to Civil Government
Ongoing metaphor throughout the essay: the machine image
o Resistance you get in a machine, you have to find a way of reducing friction
o Says friction in a machine is unavoidable
o Machine metaphor was used by many writers for society in which human beings are the
cogs or parts. Negative image usually about how it has flaws. Relates to industrial age.
o Wanted a counter-resistance.
o Used the metaphor to talk about marines and how government turns people into killing
o Friction means any society is going to have evils, people aren’t perfect.
o “if the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government, let it
If youre forced to harm another then break the law
Culminating moment of the metaphor
o “I am not the son of the engineer.” And prior “Your money or your life”
The government is a fearful institution, but in reality it’s pathetic.
I was not directly involved in creating this machinery, I’m not responsible I was
born into it.
o “the government does not have the force of one single living person”
It’s not alive, it opposes something natural that grows, it opposes a single
The machine metaphor is an organic metaphor
“if a plant cannot live according to nature, it dies; and so a man.”
For him, it is vital for a human being living in society to realize themselves and
not become disintegrated and suffer a metaphorical death.
Original title “on the duty of civil disobedience.
o Thoreau uses paradoxes all the time
“the only obligation which I have a right to assume is what I think is right…
corporation does not have a conscience but individuals do
Voting is like gambling
The onus is on every individual to stand against the state
The dehumanization of training marines, taking away a key part of their
Here confronts William palor/palin idk
o The duty of civil disobedience is above your duty to obey the state, you have a higher
duty to nature.
o Mentions Daniel Webster who always tried to preserve the constitution
Men like this are incapable of standing outside the institution
o For him the most important