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Enlightenment Ideas And Politcal Figuers Of The Era
Intro to European History
Enlightenment Ideas and
Political Figures of
The Enlightenment Era
The Enlightenment of the 18th century was an exciting period of history. For the first time since ancient Grecian times, reason and logic became center in the thoughts of most of elite society. The urge to discover and to understand replaced religion as the major motivational ideal of the age, and the upper class social scene all over Europe was alive with livid debate on these new ideas.
A French playwright who went by the pseudonym Voltaire is the most recognized and controversial Enlightenment author. Because of his trademark acidic wit, he was forced to flee the country after giving offence to a powerful nobleman. He spent the next two years in England where he came in contact with the pivotal Enlightenment idea of religious freedom and the freedom of the press. When he returned to France, he had some scathing things to say about the less than enlightened policies followed by the French monarchs, especially concerning religious intolerance. Because his ideas were generally offensive to the ruler of his country, the need to be able to leave France quickly to avoid prosecution was a consideration when deciding where he should live, which eventually was on the Swiss boarder. There he continued to treat on society and anything else that caught his imagination.
Along with Voltaire were many other Enlightened thinkers, or philosophes, as they came to be known. A man by the name of Rousseau was also a very influential personality. His essays mainly treated on social inequality and education.
An Italian by the name of Cesare Beccaria also discussed society, but more in terms of social control and matters of crime and punishment. He was an opponent of torture, capital punishment, and of any punishment that was done to excess or didnt fit the crime that warranted it. He arrived at his conclusions through the logic that was so popular of the day. An excellent example of this logic is in this phrase concerning capitol punishment: Is it not absurd, that the laws, which detest and punish homicide, should, in order to prevent murder, publicly commit murder themselves? Rational arguments such as these permeated Enlightened conversations and didnt fail to be noticed by many of the great national rulers of the day.
One monarch who seemed to be particularly inclined to the Enlightenment philosophies was Emperor Joseph II of Austria. After the less enlightened reign of his mother, Empress Maria Theresa, he was able to finally institutionalize many of the ideas he had been mulling over and thinking about for years. His mother, being a staunch Catholic, saw little use for such trivial issues, but once Joseph finally attainted complete control over the empire, his reforms were widespread. Possibly to spite his mother, one of the first thing he did as emperor was seize much of the land occupied by various monastic sects, which he accomplished through his Edict of Idle Institutions. True to his Enlightened nature, he promptly turned the seized lands into schools and other institutions of learning. He abolished the death penalty, made everybody equal in the eyes of the law, and ratified legislation that called for complete religious toleration. He even attempted to make the Jews living in Austria more acceptable to society as a whole. He had only limited success on this front, but the attempt itself was a drastic step for a monarch of any country to date. He made great progress economically as well. Joseph II ended the monopolies that had unnaturally influenced his economy for decades and eliminated stifling internal trade barriers. After all was said and done, he had created around 11,000 laws in an attempt to transform his country into an embodiment of Enlightened ideals. Has he himself put it once, I have made Philosophy the lawmaker of my empire, her logical applications are going to transform Austria.
Despite his hopes, the reforms set forth by Joseph II were not as successful as he had hoped. He angered the nobles by releasing the peasants from serfdom, and the peasants were similarly distressed over the newfound freedoms which they had no experience dealing with. His reforms were simply ... more
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Voices by dacia maraini - book
Repeated images of Angela Bari living an imprisoned life in Voices by Dacia Maraini play an important role in book. The internal and external forces surrounding Angela Bari lead her to a life of confinement and domination. If Angela Bari had broken away from her confinement she may have prevented her untimely death by exposing the ill ways of her stepfather, Glauco Elia. Angela’s secretiveness, self-doubt, and compliance with others lead her to victimization.
It is not until her unfortunate murder that Angela’s imprisonment gets unraveled. Her distorted emotions are revealed as this relatively unknown young woman’s death is investigated. Journalists trample inside Ms. Bari’s life without any regards to her in an attempt to solve this murder mystery (17). Angela’s body was discovered by the porter of her apartment who is “astonished that there should be so little blood on the floor” when he discovers that she is lying on the ground dead after being stabbed several times (18). This is the first clue that Angela is cornered in her own little world. She has little blood, which is regarded as the seat of emotions, and her lack of such nourishment suggests that perhaps she was never nurtured. Furthermore, her cause of death, internal hemorrhage, suggests that those feelings imbedded within her were lost rapidly and uncontrollably (19). The obscure grasp Angela has of her emotions is just one facet of her imprisonment.
Angela’s imprisonment is traced back to its roots in adolescence, when at the young age of eight her father dies leaving an “empty gap” in her life “that couldn’t ever be filled” (189). Shortly thereafter her mother remarries, and her bondage evolves. Her new family life is the main source of her isolation. It is, as though her family remained “cocooned inside its own cultural and linguistic bunker” (6). Similar to many, her family was like a “minefield” (39). The most explosive is Angela’s new father who sexually abuses her (214-215). “He loved her without respecting her . . . and treated her as if she belonged to him” (213). He felt as though he were taming her (233). He obviously sees nothing wrong in what he is doing as he claims, “I’m very content with my household of women” (190) as though they were objects. In addition, he does not see anything wrong with Marco beating Angela’s sister, Ludovica. “I know he beats her up but I think with good reason” (234). Glauco’s acceptance of this behavior further emphasizes the agony his daughters were subject to throughout their lives. Though Glauco Elia may have been Angela’s “torturer” (219) she loved him because growing up, captivity is all that she knew.
Augusta Elia, Angela’s mother is a second piece in the minefield composing Angela’s life. The key to this component lies in Ludovica, Angela’s sister’s question, “why daughters so often repeat detail for detail the story of their mother” (157). Angela’s mom also lived in a prison. For example, when she has an onset of eczema or headaches she barricades herself in the house with the blinds down. Ludovica even suggests that she “find herself another husband instead of shutting herself up in a room to suffer” (29). The mother also gives off different vibes at different times similar to her daughter. When Michela interviews Angela’s mother she feels that she is cold over the phone and then friendly in person (88). Even the taxi driver who drops Michela off for the interview exclaims, “This looks like a prison!” (87) Furthermore, the mom does not even care if they find Angela’s murderer (89) suggesting an isolation from her daughter.
Ludovcica, Angela’s sister is also seen “shutting herself off” at times (156). The two sisters grow up together and face the same problems including an abusive father and mother who was “blind and deaf” (214) to their problems. Ludovica gets confused between what happens to her and what happens to Angela (211) so the problems of the two sisters essentially are infused within one another. Like Angela, Ludovica has an abortion to end a pregnancy with her stepfather. She also goes to a psychiatric clinic and ends up sleeping with Angela’s husband (91). ... more
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