Henry David Thoreau’s Conscientious Performance
McCool details two modes of political action. One is authentic: a society of individuals demonstrate their inner consciences to each other in an intimate community, which governs itself directly. One is theatrical: citizens perform roles for each other in political action. Thoreau is presented as a thinker who exhibits the best of both. At Walden, Thoreau speaks with a prophetic voice he finds within his own conscience. In his John Brown speech, Thoreau gives a theatrical performance meant to shock and awaken the consciences of his audience. Ultimately, Thoreau wants his readers to experience their own natural consciences for themselves, as he demonstrates his own rediscovery of his inner nature. This blends the best of both theatrical and authentic models of politics.