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Word Count: 552
The extremely simplified definition of civil disobedience given by Websters Dictionary is nonviolent opposition to a law through refusal to comply with it on grounds of conscience Thoreau in Civil Disobedience and Martin Luther King in Letter from Birmingham Jail both argue that laws thought of as unjust in ones mind should not be adhered to In Herman Melvilles Bartleby a man named Bartleby is thought of by many to be practicing civil disobedience His actions are nonviolent and he refuses to comply with anything his boss says But his behavior has nothing to do with morals Bartleby is merely a lonely guy who does not wish to work and has nothing to do with civil disobedience Thoreau says that if injustice is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another then I say break the law Jacobus 134 He is personally giving permission for an individual to ignore anything he or she finds morally unacceptable However in Bartleby Bartlebys boss places no unjust laws and assigns no unjust work He simply asks Bartleby to do easy tasks such as when those papers are all copied I will compare them with you or just step around the Post Office wont you And see if there is anything for me Melville 116 The boss who is also the narrator never requests Bartleby to perform any difficult chores Martin Luther King Jrs interpretation of an unjust law is a code that a numerical or power majority group compels a minority group to obey but does not make binding on itself Jacobus 159 The injustice described here by King also does not match the characterization of Bartlebys boss Bartleby needs no civil disobedience since nothing could be considered unjust in the bosss management Even if an unjust act were placed against Bartleby he would not have had any cares about the injustice He was a man who needed a
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