Did the French Revolution live up to its ideals of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity?Explain.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is tough to assess.  On one hand, a case can be made that the Revolution did live up to its ideals.  The abuses perpetrated by the rich over the poor, the nobility over the lower classes, and the idea of aristocracy being inherently better than all else were eliminated by the results of the Revolution.  The overthrow of the monarchy helped to accomplish the Revolution's ideals.  This is undeniable.  However, there has to be another side to this equation that lies in the setting of what happened after the Revolution.  The warring between rival factions, the Reign of Terror, and the absolute lawlessness that existed in post- Revolution France did a great deal of damage in seeking to accomplish the ideals that triggered change.  There was little in way of ideal accomplishment in the use of the guillotine and the mass executions that seemed to define the Revolution and its faithless government.  In the end, the seizure of power by Napoleon ended up removing any hope of the democracy sought by the Revolution.  I think that this might be the lasting legacy of the Revolution, that for a moment, success was tasted only to be supplanted by the bitterness of reality that comes with life after Revolution.