Analyze and critique the role that counter-intuitive insights play in de Tocqueville’s argument concerning the roots and nature of the French Revolution. Author: Alexis DeTocqueville Title: The Old Regime and the French Revolution (1856) Thesis statement: The counter-intuitive insights in Alexis DeTocqueville’s The Old Regime and the French Revolution (1856) intriguingly reveal the movement’s poor planning. The abruptness, instability, and ignorance unveil a clumsy design. This explains the long term effects of the French Revolution. Argument I:
Topic sentence: Right out of the gate, DeTocqueville states the Revolution as “inevitable yet so completely unforeseen. ” No one was aware of the incoming Revolution, even it’s leaders. The acts leading up to it were not deliberate to contribute to the cause. In fact, most of the time they were against. The Bourbon monarchy tried to take away power from the Aristocracy and instead fed to the resistance. DeTocqueville says these acts that were the roots of the Revolution went as deep as six generations. But even still the Revolution was completely unforseen. Supporting quotation(s): “Inevitable yet so completely unforseen” (p. ) Relation to thesis: Since even Revolutionary leaders were clueless, then they must have been thinking on their feet during the Revolution. This means they had no means of procedure before, during, and after the Revolution. Paragraph 2: The lack of procedure easily can be seen through the central aim of the Revolution. In effect, the Revolution was too take away power from the aristocracy. The Church owned much land, therefore revolutionaries directed attack towards them. The Revolution then took on a very anti-religious air, which to Tocqueville was “merely incidental to the French Revolution. Argument II: Topic sentence: The French peasants possessed the most rights and freedom of all the peasants in Europe. Maybe this was because the other European nations had other rights over the French. But according to Tocqueville, this was not so; in fact he finds the interchangeable. Supporting quotation(s): True, they vary greatly, almost infinitely on points of details, but their basis is everywhere the same. Relation to thesis: If all the European nations had equal rights, why did only France revolt? France’s population comes off almost as spoiled in this way.
During Arthur Young’s visit to France, he says “ I had no idea that such a state of affairs existed anywhere. ” DeTocqueville says France’s strong Enlightenment ideas greatly contributed. Argument III: Topic sentence: Although the French Revolution is commonly misinterpreted as a “peasant’s revolt,” Tocqueville says no, the aristocracy really sparked the Revolution. They supported Enlightenment ideas and contributed to the rising peasant resistance. The aristocracy needed the rest of the population to follow them if they wanted to take down the Bourbon monarchy.
This explains why they were so willing to follow Enlightenment ideas. They quickly gave up the Old Religion, and only later did the peasant’s follow suit. Only till it was too late did the aristocracy see that by convincing peasants to revolt against the monarchy, they also had convinced them to revolt against the aristocracy. Supporting quotation(s) Relation to thesis Conclusion: Clearly, the French Revolution of 1789 lacked a strong foundation. The peasants that revolted returned back to a lot of the old ways, the Bourbon ways.