Reply to 2 classmates posts for English Lit Course

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While reading Confessions I definitely had a roller coaster of emotions going through my mind. In the beginning, when he tells of his mother’s death, I was very sad for him. No one deserves to feel like they had a part of someone’s death, especially their mother. As Rousseau speaks of his father he says, “In me he still thought he saw her he so tenderly lamented, but could never forget I had been the innocent cause of his misfortune, nor did he ever embrace me” (Rousseau p.2). A father should love their child no matter what. Showing affection towards Rousseau could have help him emotionally, in my opinion. Then, as I read further I was a little confused. I thought to myself, “why would a father read romantic books with his son?” I feel that was his way of coping with his wife’s death. Rousseau seemed like a very honorable man throughout his confessions. But when he blamed Marion for stealing the ribbon my thoughts of him completely changed. Stealing is one of my least favorite things for anyone to do! Obviously it is bad but for me I view it as a terrible thing. People that steal are very low to me. Not only did he steal the ribbon but then he blamed an innocent girl. Which mad him even lower in my standards. Even Marion seems a little surprised that he would blame her for do it. She states “Ahh, Rousseau! I thought you a good disposition— you render me very unhappy, but I would not be in your situation” (Rousseau p.12). While reading his confessions, I believe he was looking for both sympathy and empathy from his readers. Sympathy because he kept talking about all of his misfortunes as if he wanted someone to feel bad for him. Empathy because I feel like he just wanted to get off his chest all of the things that happened to him in life.

Rousseau, Jean Jacques. Confessions.….


On one level, I could describe Rousseau’s confessions as a collection of overshared life moments (good and bad) to your closest friends or therapist. In my opinion, he very brave to publicly share his entire life and feelings, all that without being afraid to be criticized or ridiculed by others. His life wasn’t always a perfect picture.

I could call Rousseau’s confessions anything but boring, his life seems fascinating, detailed, and full of events that make you stop reading and think for a moment, and the more you read the more interesting it gets. Just like a good movie, but in this case you play the scenes in your mind!

I don’t believe he’s doing it for attention, sympathy or empathy, he’s is pretty straightforward and genuinely trying to portray himself as real as possible. He was also trying to understand himself as a whole, and putting his entire existence on a piece the paper for him and others to read, helped him find the true nature of his blurry identity.

Even though he had failures or made bad decisions like everyone else, I am impressed with his morals and how deeply he cared for his older brother, which unlike him was lacking proper education and good principles (“The extraordinary affection they lavished on me might be the reason he was too much neglected … His education and morals suffered by this neglect, and he acquired the habits of a libertine before he arrived at an age to be really one).

Later in his childhood, Rousseau also developed a passion for arts, he deeply loved music and enjoyed reading and writing (which often did with his father as he was growing up), and I consider this to be another important factor that influenced him to write “Confessions”.

I might be missing the point, but I don’t think he is trying to manipulate the public, instead, I believe that is trying to show the public an accurate portrait of himself, which he does very well.

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