Free Essay on Review of Emile and Reveries of the Solitary Walker

Published: 2022-11-04
Free Essay on Review of Emile and Reveries of the Solitary Walker
Type of paper:  Book review
Categories:  Literature review
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1717 words
15 min read

"Reveries of the Solitary Walker" and "Emile" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau illustrate the different means happiness is created and its importance amongst people. "Reveries of the Solitary Walker" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau depicts the author's solitude life after the exile that triggered coping mechanism aimed at dealing with his alienation. More insights into the development of the solitude attitude are demonstrated in his first walk as he contemplates about himself after he gets separated away from everything else (Rousseau & Goulbourne, 2011). Contrary, "Emile" by Jean-Jacques Rousseau majorly focuses on describing the relationship between education and happiness through a description of the life of Emile. Rousseau has discussed on Emile, an educative model that aims at nurturing and maintaining a good man. Goodness is inherent; however, the evils of the world can corrupt a good man. In this regard, the ideals of a good man and the significant role of education in shaping this virtue are discussed in "Emile." Different factors exist to depict the various ways goodness can be created and maintained in a natural man including the effects of education, self-less attitude, and personal reflections on goodness.

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Impacts of Education on Happiness

Education has a significant impact on the happy life of an individual as it involves a learning process that shapes peoples thoughts and lifestyle in the long run. Rousseau has used his different works to depict numerous images of a happy life. In "Emile," Rousseau uses Emile's life experiences to explain the different phases of development as he proposes customized pedagogy for each phase. People are born in a natural state that depicts a good character; however, knowledge has a powerful influence on the kind of life lived. The process of knowledge acquisition begins at a tender age immediately after birth; the child starts to receive care from either the parents or guardians who offer to vow to give the newborn a happy life (Rousseau, 2011). The guardians are unaware of the task that awaits the fulfillment of the promise of happiness.

Rousseau expounds on these tasks which he views in two different perspectives after the introduction of education. Emile's happiness is neither decreased nor maintained in the same position after birth. Instead, education shapes the growth of happiness on the life of Emile such that after he completes his study, he accomplishes one goal the attainment of an everlasting happy life. At the initial stage of development, the most important skills developed are the physical senses. After this development phase, the child proceeds to the age of wisdom where formal educative skills are acquired. Emile, at this stage, developed his knowledge on religious education. The approach adopted to gain the knowledge was based on skepticism and freethinking. As a result, Emile exhibited a type of freedom in the discovery of the church's dogma. The religious studies contributed significantly to the knowledge on a corrupt mind. Emile could only venture into society with reduced risk of suffering from corruption after he gained the historical knowledge.

The author explains the balance between power and desires required to attain a conscious being; as a result, a happy life. This internal balance ensures an individual enjoys a happy life since desires do not stretch beyond limited power. As a result, frustrations and depressions are avoided leading to a peaceful life free from forecasted challenges and worries. Desires create goals which require a certain amount of power to achieve. Therefore, disequilibrium between power and desires results in imbalances that require a compromise of either of the elements. To exemplify, when desires exceed the abilities of an individual, negative attitudes towards life begin to develop which is an onset of sadistic feelings that eliminate happy lives. However, Rousseau further acknowledges that a slight extent of imbalance where power surpasses desires could still result in a happy life.

Rousseau further explains the concept of power and desire imbalances by defining the path of achieving true happiness. The author demonstrates the danger of having limited desires since they contribute to idleness, a factor that hinders the enjoyment of happiness by a whole person. In this regard, the mere rise in desires will result in a miserable life since the extended power cannot satisfactorily address the desires. Therefore, equilibrium can only be achieved by the establishment of perfect equilibrium between the two elements which makes a man's soul attain rest; as a result, happiness (Rousseau, 2011). In this regard, education plays a significant role in shaping imaginations and providing insights into the control of power and desires. Education further enhances one's power which directly influences the desires made. As a result, unreasonable desires are not formulated; therefore, reducing the risk of jeopardizing happiness.

Additionally, two central features help to illustrate the path of attaining a happy life they include pleasure and happiness itself. Rousseau argues that pleasant mental states cannot at any point depict the happiness of an individual. Pleasure is short-termed feeling that cannot sustain a happy life. According to Rousseau (2011), momentary sensations cannot define the psychological condition that depicts a positive attitude towards life through happy feelings regardless of the succession of the sensations. As a result, the author asserts that a balance between self-unity, a peaceful soul, and contented life are the main components that ascertain happiness.

Impact of Thoughts and Behaviors on Happiness

Rousseau claims that the time he has to exist for himself is the most treasurable asset one can ever acquire. As a result, he detaches away from family and the society at large as he prefers to make several walks in the outskirts of Paris away from his home. This solitude life depicts the path individuals should follow to devote time to study oneself. Solitude entails a transition from the life surrounded by family and friends to a life where the main focus was on oneself. Rousseau engages in a mental excursion that allows him to communicate with his souls. During the physical wanders the author is in a position to align his psychological meditations. As a result, he identifies and finds solutions to some of the problems he had encountered in his life journey. The different aspects of life Rousseau addresses include a religious view on divine justice, a life of solitude, and God, and the impacts of freedom on happiness (Rousseau & Goulbourne, 2011). This is an illustration of strategies a person should implement to handle any exclusions from the society.

By a different token, individuals can shape their thoughts; as a result, their livelihood through soul searching to realize happiness. According to Rousseau & Goulbourne (2011, pp. 88-89), people should find a resting place where the present day needs are what matters; therefore no focus should be put on past and future day activities. At such a point, happiness will be achieved since there are no feelings of deprivation, fear, regret, or desire. The soul is at peace, and no feelings of emptiness fill the soul. In this regard, an individual will be in a position to extend the happiness to his or her surroundings. Individuals are responsible for their actions and the effects they have on other people in society. However, the factors such as desire and fear have the potential of limiting the spread of happiness in a community.

In most of the scenarios where Rousseau engages with others in "Reveries of the Solitary Walker," he appears to be the victim of circumstances. The author is faced with various challenges when interacting with others. However, these challenges present appropriate platforms to learn the best ways to interact with others. To exemplify, the author meditates upon his life in the fourth walk where he remembers he had committed a crime in the past; as a result, gets disappointed (Rousseau & Goulbourne, 2011). Rousseau claims he was a victim of circumstances since he committed the crime to avoid embarrassments. This is an indication that the crimes he committed were not self-centered. This event depicts that people should relate to each other based on selfless interests. As a result, good deeds will be promoted in society, and people will live happily. Additionally, on occasions where the demand for good deeds was irksome, the author preferred to walk away and be the solitary person he had been. This is illustrated by his experience with the crippled boy in the sixth walk. The author's reaction is an ideal solution that aims at achieving good by avoiding disappointments initiated by him on others.

Miseries are a significant contributor to an unhappy life. Miseries can be initiated by factors such as frustrations, isolation, and lack of freedom. In this regard, Rousseau acknowledges that isolations result in miseries; however, he remains optimistic that it solitude could be the path to a happy life. Therefore, people are obligated to take things positively including the worst life experiences as they have the power of remolding a happier life. Isolation from society gives the excluded individual unique freedom which when well exploited can revive a happy and fulfilling life. Consequently, the solitary individual has an opportunity to contemplate about various factors influencing their lives and establish strategies to deal with any issues found. For instance, after the psychological meditations, Rousseau resolves on living a simple life interacting with nature as a way of getting rid of sentiments likely to cause an unhappy life.


In conclusion, philosophic novels depict the means individuals can live happily through education and engaging in self-reflection. Education depicts learning behaviors which if acquired appropriately have a positive impact on a happy life. The acquisition of knowledge maintains an inborn equilibrium between powers and desires delicate in achieving a happy life. Additionally, the two major threats of happiness are lack of freedom and frustrations which can be triggered by different factors including unavoidable suffering such as health issues. These threats distort the stable equilibrium between self-unity, peaceful soul, and life satisfaction. By a different token, the author's view on religious and political affairs played a significant role in shaping his solitude life. Other factors that have shaped Rousseau's thoughts and ideas include nature and the time he had for self-reflection. The author's account for his reveries and meditations are well crafted through an adaptation of a non-political approach.


Rousseau, J.-J. (2011). Emile: On education. Ltd.

Rousseau, J.-J., & Goulbourne, R. (2011). Reveries of the solitary walker. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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