Thoreau’s Political Activism: The Construction of Unconventional Masculinity

In “Civil Disobedience,” Henry David Thoreau asks his audience: “How many men are there to a square thousand miles in this country? Hardly one” (70). This question forces us to ask in turn, what type of masculinity does Thoreau consider to be ideal? Since gender is a societal construct, people have equated different traits with “femininity” and “masculinity” depending on the time and place in which they lived. Since no characteristics are inherently feminine or masculine, Thoreau was able to construct his own unique unconventional ideal of masculinity throughout Waldenand his political essays.

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