Narrative Art in Civil Disobedience

In Thoreau’s Narrative Art in Civil Disobedience, Barry Wood states, “the single-minded emphasis in commentary on Civil Disobedience to the political rather than the artistic suggests a virtual blind spot even among the most sensitive critics”. Wood believes that many of Thoreau’s creative ideas may have had an influence from other people. According to Wood, Thoreau was “not the first to live in a cabin by a pong near Concord… Even the ideas of Civil Disobedience had important forerunners”. This made me think that although Thoreau was the person who wrote Civil Disobedience, maybe he shouldn’t be the one to get all the credit. Or maybe it’s the winners who deserve to get the credit, since they were the ones who were able to link everything together and write convincing essays. As most essays mention, Thoreau was very closely linked with nature. However, Wood thinks that it could have been an influence from Emerson and Melville. They both seem to be linking the real world and the spiritual world together. Where in times of happiness or creativity, people will be in both worlds at the same time. I wonder why Thoreau would get such recognition when other such people with similar characteristics hardly get mentioned. Is it because they lacked something, or didn’t write essays, or maybe because they didn’t express their feeling?

When Thoreau goes to jail, he says that he was on a “long journey”. His description of the jail seems so different of what people would imagine it to be like. Thoreau doesn’t even complain that he is in jail and says that he learnt new things about his town and surroundings. Maybe nature has something to do with this. Since people who live engrossed in nature do not need many materialistic things, and learn to appreciate the beauty around them. “When I came out of prison, -for some one interfered, and paid that tax”.  Is Thoreau okay with someone paying for his tax? Although he writes “interfered”, does he really mean this? I doubt that he would rather be in jail then someone pay his tax and let him out.

4 thoughts on “Narrative Art in Civil Disobedience”

  1. Interesting points. I think you could be right about why Thoreau got so much attention – ‘Civil Disobedience’ is a kind of art rather than a vessel for messages to be broadcast. While others may have been more pivotal than Thoreau in certain movements, one cannot deny how aesthetically pleasing Thoreau’s writing is.

  2. some really good ideas here! i like your idea about nature and it having something to do with the fact that Thoreau doesn’t complain that he is in jail, but thinks of it more as a “journey”.

  3. 🙂 Yeah, I think his writing style is kind of unique and interesting, even if you may not agree with the content, it has something attention grabbing.

  4. I think that Thoreau’s time in jail was to him a period of enlightment instead of a punishment.

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