Free Essay Example: Women and the French Revolution

Published: 2022-02-23
Free Essay Example: Women and the French Revolution
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women French Revolution
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 917 words
8 min read

The French Revolution was believed to be a watershed event that occurred in the history of the modern European which started in 1789 and ended in the late 1790s after the ascension of the Napoleon Bonaparte. It was a period that was far-reaching political and social upheaval in France as well as its colonies since early 1789. However, during this time, the French citizens redesigned and razed the political landscape of their country, uprooting all the centuries-old institutions such as the feudal system and the absolute monarchy. Several factors have been related to the cause of the revolution. For example, the rising economic and social inequality, new and extensive political ideas which emergences from the Enlightenment, harsh environmental conditions leading to adverse agricultural failure, and financial mismanagement among other were associated with the process.

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Notably, in James McMillan's article "The Rights of Man and the Rights of Woman: Women and the French Revolution," the revolution changed its course, and different rights were bestowed to redeem the razed political landscape in France. James McMillan identifies several rights of both men and women and their importance in shaping the revolution process. However, in the painting Jacques Louis David, The Sabine Women, 1799, several illustrations are made that bring the revolution process into a calm rationale. This papers analyses McMillan's depiction of Jacques Louis David, The Sabine Women painting as a platform for addressing significant incidences in the French Revolution and their importance on women.

McMillan Essay

McMillan offers a comprehensive reinterpretation of the past French relation to gender throughout the tumultuous decades of war and revolution. The articles provide a tangling discussion of the numerous factors which made French enjoy political culture as profoundly sexist (James, 2017). It also shows that many of the myths about emancipation and progress which are associated with the coming of mass politics and modernization do not portray close scrutiny. The article generally discusses the legacy of the Enlightenment, and its impact on the different gender, cultural construction of femininity and the rights of men and women, family and community of laboring women and their position in the revolutionary process as well as the sexual division of labor. Overall, McMillan also reveals that the conservative nature that was realized among the republican left an inherent assumption throughout French society and supported that women should stay within the domestic sphere.

Jacques Louis David, the Sabine Women, 1799 Painting

David chose the painting to portray the plea for the people to come together as members of the same locality after the great bloodshed which was experienced in the revolution. The realization of the painting took him nearly four years due to his intention of making the pictorial to have a significant order as well as an exuberant emphasis on specific issues. The overall arrangement of the painting starts by depicting Hersilia, Romulus wife and the daughter of Titus Tatius, who was the leader of the Sabines. She is portrayed rushing between her father and husband while placing her babies between them (James, 2017). The vigorous Romulus prepares to strike the half-retreating father-in-law, Tatius with his sharp spear, but retreats. On the background is a rocky outcrop, the Tarpeian Rock which represents the civil war, due to the nature of the Roman punishment which was associated with the of people from the rock. The depiction of Hersilia as the top most people in the painting was purposely to portray the role of women in the revolution process (Klausen, 2016). Additionally, it is the scale representation that makes Hersilia dominant in the painting. The lighting in her presentation is equally splendid.

Post-Revolutionary Woman in the Painting

The "Jacques Louis David, The Sabine Women, 1799," painting represents a patriotic mother. The painting reveals women as no strangers in the political protest in the revolutionary process. According to MacMillan in his construction of the 'Republic of Virtue," it had been suggested that virtue is a specific revolutionary vocabulary (James, 2017). It was associated with the male characters who have heroic dominance and dignity in the provision of the new kind of real politic which is beyond the effort of the women. It was also seen that women have never shown up in the political and civil fights for independence which involves strongly pronounced actions. However, in the painting, Hersilia challenges the assumption and becomes a pronounced woman in the battle for civil restoration after the French Revolution.

Similarly, the research reveals that women were much opposed to taking part in the revolution process. The rights were narrowed to the kitchen operations and domestic chores which are less involving. Women were believed to be economically vulnerable when exposed it. The painting, however, denounces this male dominance and gives women an additional role in the fight for revolution.

In conclusion, the French revolution gives women the opportunity to redeem the assumptions that were made on the male dominance in the civil war. The representation of Hersilia in David painting is significant that supports women's attempts in participating in the revolution process. The picture portrays a patriotic woman who not only ridicules the records in McMillan research, "the Rights of Men and Women" which assumes the role of the female gender in civil and political activities. It gives women a place in the economic development process.


James, F. M. (2017). The Rights of Man and the Rights of Women: Women and the French Revolution: a biography of Olympe de Gouges. Routledge

Klausen, J. C. (2016). Jacques-Louis David's Adieux: The Micropolitics of Sovereignty at the Bourbon Restoration. Law, Culture and the Humanities, 12(2), 278-300.

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