Explain the effects of the French Revolution.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would say that one of the effects of the French Revolution was to display the intense amount of violence that can accompany revolutions.  Intellectually speaking, one of the strongest effects f the Revolution was to show how the revolutionary spirit, one that Wordsworth would call "pure bliss," can morph so very quickly into something awful and horrendous.  The Reign of Terror that started a year or so after the Revolution was a reflection of this.  The energy and spirit that led to the overthrow of the monarchy had a very unsightly facade to it during Robespierre's time.  The use of the government to suppress individual factions and to do so without any checks or limitations created a state where personal vendettas were carried out through executive power.  The use of the guillotine in public executions on such a large scale proved that the French Revolution had strayed far from its American counterpart.  Tribunals who "determined" guilt started to kill those that the revolution had actually sought to protect.  Over 70% of those killed were poor peasants who were sentenced for crimes such as larceny and disturbing the public peace.  At this point, I would say that the effect of the Revolution was two fold.  The first is that it showed that authority can represent corrupt ends at any time, and all authority has to be questioned.  At the same time, this effect brought out the idea that individuals in the position of power might not have the public interest at the forefront of their concerns.  In the end, this abuse of power in my mind becomes one of the significant effects of the French Revolution.