Describe the poor treatment of women in Confessions and how it reflects a Romantic or realistic approach.

In Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau mistreats Marion when he accuses her of stealing the ribbon. The mistreatment has Romantic elements. Rousseau infuses Marion with rather supernatural traits. She gives Rousseau a look that "would have disarmed a demon.” Yet the mistreatment is also realistic. It's realistic that Marion would be punished for Rousseau's misdeeds, as Marion is a member of a lower socioeconomic class.

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In Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, what Rousseau does to Marion could qualify as an example of “poor treatment of women.”

Remember, Rousseau steals a pink and silver ribbon. For some people, pocketing a pink and silver ribbon might not seem like a grand crime. Yet it was quite a...

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In Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions, what Rousseau does to Marion could qualify as an example of “poor treatment of women.”

Remember, Rousseau steals a pink and silver ribbon. For some people, pocketing a pink and silver ribbon might not seem like a grand crime. Yet it was quite a large crime in the household of Madam de Vercellis.

As Rousseau was a careless thief, the ribbon was found and an investigation was started. Rather than shoulder the blame, Rousseau blames the cook Marion. According to Rousseau, he “boldly” accuses her of the crime that he himself committed.

Marion fights back. She shoots Rousseau a look that “would have disarmed a demon.” Yet Rousseau is steadfast. He continues to try and pass the blame onto her. Marion keeps up her defense. She does so calmly and without insulting Rousseau. Yet she is punished. Rousseau confesses that he plunged her into “misery and disgrace.” To put that more mildly, he "mistreated" her.

The mistreatment could be considered somewhat Romantic since it plays on rather Romantic notions of women. The look Marion gives Rousseau—the look that “would have disarmed a demon”—imbues Marion with a supernatural, otherworldly ability.

You could also argue Rousseau’s mistreatment of Marion is more realist since it deals with the reality of socioeconomic bias.

For other realistic depictions of women, check out how Rousseau describes his aunts. Their “modest reserve” probably has more in common with the reality of gender norms than with how Romantics portrayed women.

For more Romantic portrayals of women, you might want to review the part in which Rousseau tells why he yearns for an intimate connection with a woman. For Rousseau, it’s about more than sex or “corporal union.” It has to do with something spiritual, ineffable, or Romantic.

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