Public and Private Lifes in Eighteen Century France

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In eighteenth century France, the ambiguous terms of “public life” versus “private life” affected the everyday life of politicians, entertainers, and the private lives of many married couples. In Jeffery Merrick’s essay “Sexual Politics and Public Order in Late Eighteenth-Century France: The Mémoires secrets and the Correspondance secret” he endeavored to portray the public’s fixation with private dealings and affairs was partially due to the family being perceived as the model for relations between authority and their subordinates. The view of this family model being so crucial to public life in turn meant that anything that disrupted the family model and relationships was detrimental to society. Inappropriate sexual behavior within private life was publically believed to damage the stability of the authority-subordinate relationship model; therefore the French saw private activities as a concern of the public for the well being of society. Family in eighteenth century France was ruled much like the monarch ruled France. Both were ruled based on the dogma of patriachalism, absolutism, and Catholicism (Merrick 171). The model of a French family was portrayed as a miniature kingdom; the father as the patriarch with absolute authority and his wife and children as his subjects. During this time period women were deemed as physically, mentally and morally inferior and were restrained to the roles of wife, mother, and homemaker (Merrick 172). Because the family model was so

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