Compare and Contrast French and American Revolution Documents

Instigating Change

While reflecting on the revolutions of the past it has been seen that they have brought upon suffering and at times more chaos. Even after there has been a reform, the public’s misery has not been eased. However, at times the natural rights of the people become violated enough and the desire for happiness necessitates retribution which is similarly displayed by the French and American revolutionary documents. They also put doubt on the “perfect State” (The Republic) proposed by Plato.

Although the two documents draw many parallelisms; they occur in different social contexts. While Americans were being oppressed by a King on the other side of the shore, French were being oppressed in their homeland. This probably led to the French having a more aggressive approach in their declaration as the control by the monarchy was a much stronger one. Whereas the Americans living on another land probably had much more freedom than their French did counterparts did.

Both the French and American societies bring to light the tyranny of their respective rulers: one by the dictatorship of the British King; the other, the hierarchal social structure. Being on a common stage brought upon by violation of rights, they plead for equal standing regardless of place of birth in society. Born under the same sun, they believe every man deserves, “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”(Blaisedell 64). They reveal that the majority is ruled by a minor group in society and their desires fulfilled at the cost of the majority. In America’s case a British monarch far overseas enforces dictatorship and the French, by the First and Second estate which consists of less than 2% of society but has the most say in the State. They infringe the rights of man which are considered “sacred” and “inviolable”(Paine 94).  The documents also display parallel rhetoric in their arguments. They display a common use of pathos by describing the incompetency of the King and Second estate as the rulers have defiled their right to rule by giving in to personal desires of power, ignoring the public good. Such use of pathos was important, as it would rally up the people to rise for a change in governance. The use of emotion was needed to unite them under one banner.

These two documents signify how intellectuals brought up an issue to the people and allowed them to strive for what was rightfully theirs. While proving that the desire for freedom can instigate change, they also display the long term results of ‘perfect’ compulsive societies put forward by Plato and that perhaps a utopia is one with everyone’s happiness considered.

 

 

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