Intelligence or Arrogance

Freud is well known for his creation of the psycho-analysist theory that has led to him being considered the father of modern psychology. In his writings there is clearly a level of arrogance shown within his work whether it be as he dares others to be more frank than he is, or acting disapprovingly towards those stationed below him such as his household servants. In his writings he acts so self assured in his work but it does not appear that he often is willing to accept criticism to his theory. I wonder if Freud was a modern psychologist if his methods would still be acceptable or if his colleges and others would be as willing to accept his theories.

Breaking Apart

Chapters 16 and 17 are very important chapters in this novel as we see the effects of the imperialists on Africa. Earlier parts of the novel focused on family relations and kinship, but not long after white men enter the villages we see signs of inner weakness among these units. Okonkwo and his oldest son’s relationship becomes even more strained as his son accepts the Christian faith. We also see the first woman convert (a pregnant woman) turning from her family after being forced to abandon past children because of traditions. Why do you believe Christianity appealed to certain people within the village?

Discussion Questions

Do you think Zola is advocating for the working class to advance or is any discussion of this just banter meant to represent talks of the time period?

What do you think of the Quote on page 66 that says, “Everything happens, and nothing happens.”

How do everyone feel about the posseive nature used when the men talk about using women for sating their “passions” (wants)

Did anyone find it weird that a piece called The Ladies Paradise was so focused on men and their dealings, at least in many parts of chapter 3

Wealth and Class

In all of history, there has often been the question of how does class structure affects the wealth distribution amongst the people, this was a common issue in Paris. In the reading The Ladies Paradise, two old schoolmates and friends from different social standings meet each other after going on their separate ways. It is stated on page 64, “In spite of their different natures, a close comradeship had made them inseparable until the baccalauréat, which they passed, one with distinction, the other just scraping through after two failed attempts.” (Zola 64) As readers, we are at first not told which friend had the high earning distinction and who just barely passed. It is later noted that the poor friend who could not use his diplomas to help his station was the one who passed with honors. After his father’s passing his family was left struggling and despite his education, he could not help them. The friend who barely passed continues to bask in wealth due to his station and not due to his work. He even scoffs at his friend’s 3,000 Francs per year.

Now it would be fair to think that Vallagnosc would be angered at his station, but he appears to just be focused on supporting himself and his mother and sisters the best he can. His friend Mouret, much like many of the wealth often do to the underclass they see as below them, goes on to brag and subliminally mock his old friend. He muses how even though Vallagnosc was educated and well accomplished a simple minded sales boy made more Mouret than Vallagnosc would earn in a year.

How is the treatment of Vallagnosc by Mouret reminiscent of class divides amongst people in France and Europe overall in the 19th Century?

Cobblers of a Unifying Nation

The unification of Germany was a landmark achievement that was mostly headed by Otto Von Bismarck along with others who helped to form the new nation. While many critique Bismarck’s methods in unification it does appear that everything he did was in hopes to create the strong nation he believed in. In one of his speeches, Bismarck himself says, “We want to serve the people. But I make the demand on Herr Bamberger that he act as my co-shoemaker in order to make sure that no member of the public goes barefoot, and to create a suitable shoe for the people in this crucial area.” (page 420) He goes on to criticize Herr Bamberger for not doing what is necessary, but was Bismarck innocent, or did he fail to see his own faults? Does he fall victim to the common mistake of a lack of insight within his own methods, or do you believe that Bismarck’s actions were justified in all situations?

The Deplorable Truth

A common thread throughout history is often that common people are trampled by the greed of the upper classes attempting to gain more power. In the winter of 1848, Tocqueville observed the growing anger of the peasantry and proletariat classes as they were continually disenfranchised and discriminatinated against.

He wrote, “The deplorable truth is that for jobs and a life at the public expense is not, with us, confined to any single party, but it is the great and permanent weakness of the nation itself…” (Page 33) This is true of France and many other countries not only during this time period but also still in the present.

How is this idea present not only present in France at this time but also across Europe and even in present day America? Do you agree with this sentiment or do you believe Tocqueville is being too pessimistic?

Government and the “Free” Press

Mills’ writing immediately begins by discussing the connections between governments and the press. He makes an argument that “the government, whether completely responsible to the people or not, will often attempt to control the expression of opinion, except when in doing so makes itself the organ of the general intolerance of the public.” (23) Mills begins by first drawing attention to the fact that established free nations should not feel the need to worry about the control of the press, but continues to critic that fact that they do in fact use this very same practice.

Mills calls the practice illegitimate, but if it is illegitimate in the eyes of free nations why do they turn a blind eye to their own hypocritical actions? Why must people such as Mills be the ones to bring this up instead of officials within the government who have more control of this?

Hidden Amongst Society

“For it is in the most polished society that noisome reptiles and venomous serpents lurk under the rank herbage…” Vindication of the Rights of Women chapter 9 (page 155)

Mary Wollstonecraft, much like her daughter, was a phenomenal writer who pushed the boundaries of society during her time through writing. Wollstonecraft as a woman was able to capture the underlying problems that existed in society that many wished to hide. In chapter 9, Wollstonecraft begins the chapter explaining that while people attempt to make the world look better than it is; it grows conceit and anger amongst those who do not have the option to have a voice in society Wollstonecraft’s main focus in this passage is about the women that are oppressed within society. She continues on page 176 explaining the difference between men and women and how they are expected to survive in their society. Does Wollstonecraft argue that women and others put down by others in this society deserve the right to become venomous or is she searching for an answer on how to change this?

Great Britain: the Tiny Island that Started a Revolution

“Industry is the mother and father of science, literature, the arts, entertainment, freedom, useful institutions, and national power, and independence.” Friedrich List

If it were not for Great Britain the industrial revolution would have been completely different and would not have taken place until half a decade later. The small nation has always been a forerunner in cultural growth in Europe. Thanks to an almost endless supply of water around the island, the people of England were able to capture the water’s power and use it for the advancement of some of the first commercialized industry. This increased industry allowed for a blossoming of ideals across England. Because of the increase of industry people were more often able to have free time where they could do more than just work. This allowed for the first time in history for people to be able to learn new skills or be introduced to new ideas.

This new spark of interests would lead to a new age of modernization and exploration not just in England but across Europe over the 19th Century as well. Friedrich List’s quote exemplifies the new sentiments of people across the continent as many more ideas and institutions were introduced and grown throughout the century.