John Locke vs. William Cullen Bryant

John Locke and William Cullen Bryant have similar yet differing opinions on the death penalty. John Locke was a puritan while William Cullen Bryant was a romantic. Although the two men have different mentalities and thought processes, their ideas on the death penalty are very similar.

John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government has proved to be the basis for the Declaration of Independence. In the Second Treatise of Government, John Locke states that all men have the right to life, liberty, and estate. One would think that because of this statement that Locke is against the death penalty, but this is not necessarily true. Locke speaks about natural rights throughout the Second Treatise of Government and how no one should be able to violate these rights. He also speaks about defending these rights. Would that mean that if someone violates a mans natural right to life should the one who took it give up his? Locke would say yes because it is defending the natural rights of other citizens but in any other situation the death penalty would be wrong.

William Cullen Bryant’s Thanatopsis talks about death and returning to the natural state and being one with nature. Bryant would feel that the death penalty is wrong due to his statement that we are all equal no matter what you do. He said that once we die we all go to one place, and that place is nature.

John Locke and William Cullen Bryant were different in opinion because John Locke says that the death penalty can be used in some situations whereas William Cullen Bryant says that it should never be used. They are similar because they both believe that the death penalty is wrong. Locke said it is wrong but in his opinion it is a necessary evil.

John Locke and William Cullen Bryant and their opinion of the death penalty show that ideas slightly change throughout time but morals generally stay the same.

Similar Essays