Question: English & Literature

Premium Question How would Henry Thoreau and Bailey be in the 21st century? Also what are the direct references to their traits and characters?

In English & Literature | Asked by susanhenry1
Asked from the The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail study pack
Answers

The play, The Night Thoreau Spent in Jail, has two main characters: Henry Thoreau and Baily (a homeless man that he meets in jail). Thoreau is in jail because he refused to pay his taxes which were going to support the war effort...which he did not agree with. In modern times, one could definitely see Thoreau not only belonging to the New Age movement, but also becoming involved in eco-movements, maybe not Greenpeace(because of their militancy) but definitely some sort of civil disobedience group bent on saving the environment. He would also be part of those groups that lobbied against nuclear power plants, and would be for saving the whales and all species on the planet. He would work in soup kitchens where he would run into many people like Bailey. He may also be a professor, since it is evident in the play that he takes great pride in teaching and working with open minded students. 

Both Bailey and Henry are similar in their personalities. For example, Thoreau once says to his mother,  "Must the alphabet begin with A? . . . Why not with Z? Z is a very sociable letter." This is in direct response to her chastizing him because he was getting his alphabets backwards. This shows that he is sarcastic, and that he is flippant about the idea of traditional education. This is also evident when he refuses to pay the one dollar that it would have taken to get his diploma from Harvard. One can see the simplicity of Bailey from this quote: "Thankee. I ain't ever gonna fergit this night here. And - when I'm out - I'm gonna come visit you, if you don't mind - at your pond place." It indicates that he has seen the kindness and the wisdom of the man, and wants it for himself. He has allowed the 'spark' of transcendentalism to catch in the hay of his own mind, and is eager to continue it when he leaves. However, this doesn't get to happen as Henry tells him that, that time in his life has passed. 

MHood2 | 193 days ago