What are some instances in Confessions where the narrator embodies the romantic persona?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of the Romantic artist is evident in the very nature of the work.  The idea of a "Confessions" based work is highly Romantic in its nature.  On one level, it is personal.  This makes it significantly Romantic because it does not escape the notion of self.  In fact, it praises it, raises it to the level of deification.  At the same time, it is emotional because of its self- reflective nature, and this lauding of emotions is another representation of the Romantic persona, seeking to integrate emotions into consciousness and not divorce it from them.  Finally, the idea of The Confessions of J.-J. Rousseau helps to bring the notion of subjectivity as of central importance.  This is another aspect of the Romantic experience, as it lauds the self as the most important element in conveying the universal.  For the Romantic, understanding of the universal is not gained through science, but rather through emotional self- reflection, something in which Rousseau actively engages.

The Romantic persona of the tormented individual is something that Rousseau embellishes and almost raises to an unquestioned level.  The divulging of his "discipline" from his tutor, and the complexity within such an element is something that represents the Romantic persona as being "fundamentally different" from everyone else.  Rousseau is almost taking an enjoyment in being seen as "different" and having others "shocked" at what he divulges.  This is consistent with the Romantic persona because it helps to enhance the idea that the Romantic thinker is different than everyone else.  In his depiction of the rather warped relationship Rousseau has with women, the same end of shock and distance is achieved.  Rousseau is able to fulfill the Romantic notion of the artist or protagonist as being misunderstood by society, incapable of being fully grasped.  The Romantic thinker loved this position, for it allowed them the best opportunity to critique and yet be a part of the social order without succumbing to its perceived mind- numbing conformity.

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