Comparison of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

775 Words4 Pages
The main goals for this paper is to compare and contrast the main ideas and views of the great pieces of literature: “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King and “Civil Disobedience” by Henry David Thoreau. Both authors attempt to argue for the rights to disobey authority is there is social injustice. Both of these authors seem to have the same ideas and views, but Thoreau was writing during the mid 1800s during the time of slavery in America and King was writing in the 1960s during the time of severe racial discrimination in America. Because Thoreau came before King, he was a big influence for King and his writing. Although Thoreau was not the first to introduce these ideas, he may have been the first to bring it to the attention of many Americans. They both effectively illustrate their philosophy that civil disobedience is a necessity. As I said before, Thoreau was writing during the transcendentalism era in America during the mid 1800s. The main issue behind “Civil Disobedience” is slavery that is taking place in America. By this time, slavery is a very hotly debated issue in America, even eventually leading to the Civil War. Thoreau obviously takes the position against slavery and tries to use his writing to try and convince the citizens of America to stand up against slavery and the laws that protect it. Thoreau often writes of the injustice that the government displays towards its people. For example, Thoreau writes, “Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them?” (184). Thoreau’s purpose is to convince the citizens of America to not follow the majority, but do what is felt to be morally right. Thoreau believes that citizens have the right and responsibility to disobey laws and regulations if they are unjust and not moral. Another one of Thoreau’s main points is that there

More about Comparison of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and Henry David Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience”

Open Document