Is Rousseau an honest autobiographer or does he shift events to place himself in a more positive light? Please provide specific examples.
Though Rousseau says in his Confessions that he will "display to my kind a portrait in every way true to nature, and the man I shall portray will be myself," he also does color certain facts to present himself in a more positive light. For instance, he had five children with his mistress, Therese, but glosses over some of the realities of the situation.
He doesn't, for example, say that Therese was pregnant but says that she grew fatter, and he also notes, for example, that “the following year the same inconvenience presented itself.” Rather than use the term "pregnant" or say that Therese was going to have a baby, he reduces the child to the word "inconvenience." Many would say it is not quite honest to call a human being an "inconvenience."
Although the foundling hospital where he put his children was considered by many to be a terrible choice, as children often died young there, Rousseau brushes past this. Therese is so opposed to the idea of giving up her children that he has to get her mother on his side to help convince her to place her babies there, but he still is unable to face the full reality of what he has done. Instead, he rationalizes the decision, writing:
Everything considered, I chose the best destination for my children, or that which I thought to be such. I could have wished, and still should be glad, had I been brought up as they have been.
Many people might consider it less than honest to say abandoning one's children to an orphanage at birth is a fate they would have wished on themselves. Does Rousseau really think he would have been "glad" to have "been brought up as they had been"? Would you want to have been brought up in an orphanage? One could reasonably argue that rather than being totally honest about abandoning his children for his own convenience, he is trying to place himself in a better light by asserting he did it for their good and he also is not entirely truthful when he says he wishes he had been brought up the same way.
He also says on the topic of abandoning his children that
I trembled at the thought of intrusting them to a family ill brought up, to be still worse educated. The risk of the education of the foundling hospital was much less.
Again, he seems to be justifying what he did to his children--leaving them to an uncertain fate--rather than being entirely honest about his motives in placing them in the foundling hospital. Did he really believe they would get a better education there or was it simply the easiest way for him to get rid of them?