Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "La Nouvelle Heloise" Book Review by Rene

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's "La Nouvelle Heloise"
Examines what is morally dangerous about Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel "La Nouvelle Heloise" and why Rousseau thought it was morally uplifting.
# 118582 | 2,775 words | 0 sources | 2009 | GB
Published on Feb 09, 2010 in Language (French: General) , Literature (French) , English (Analysis)

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This paper explains that, although the moral, inferred from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's novel "La Nouvelle Heloise", is not necessarily negative or dangerous, the themes that Rousseau exploits can be seen to present a moral danger. If read as an advocacy of relationships outside marriage, which give into passion, disregard class divisions, refuse conventions and ignore parental authority, the author believes that this novel can be seen as being morally dangerous. However, if the reader looks at the aspect of virtue, the paper concludes that "La Nouvelle Heloise" also can be considered morally uplifting just as Rousseau believed. The paper contains several quotations in French.

From the Paper:

"The danger becomes further evident when ultimately, Julie and Saint-Preux's affair could be said to have caused the death of Julie's mother. Julie's mother falls ill and dies after she discovers the letters between Julie and Saint-Preux (who is now in Paris), which suggests that the correspondence and the shock was likely to have caused the death. Julie feels guilty and coupable, as though it is her actions that are to blame for the death - namely giving in to passion and ignoring her father's authority, and this guilt is a heavy burden - "je ne vois plus que ma honte; ma vie n'est plus que peine et douleur"."

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