Rhetorical Analysis of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” Essay

1567 Words Oct 2nd, 2014 7 Pages
AP Language
Rhetorical Analysis of Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

Directions: Read “Civil Disobedience.” As you read, underline examples of Thoreau using rhetorical devices and identify and explain the devices via annotation. Answer questions 1-4 to prepare for further work with a small group. The group will work together on questions 5 through 8. Be ready to explain your answers to the whole class. Even when you’re working as a group you should be writing the answers.

1. Based on your reading of “Civil Disobedience,” what kind of person does Henry David Thoreau seem to be? How would you characterize his state of mind and emotion as he composed this essay? Cite specific examples from the text to support your claims about
…show more content…
It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority.”

4. How do you think Thoreau wanted his readers to react to the essay? What did he want them to feel? think? believe? do? How do you know? Identify specific places in the essay that help you determine Thoreau’s purpose.

(paragraph 15) “…Some are petitioning the State to dissolve the Union, to disregard the requisitions of the President. Why do they not dissolve it themselves—the union between themselves and the State—and refuse to pay their quota into its treasury?

(paragraph 17) “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?”

(paragraph 23) “…If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose. If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood.”

5. Using the questions below, divide the essay into functional parts (a part of text classified according to its function—for example, introduction, example, or counterargument). Label the parts and be prepared to support your answers.

• 1) the exordium: the web that draws

Related Documents