A Sentimental Education: Rousseau to Godwin

Hina Nazar

in Enlightened Sentiments

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823240074
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823240111 | DOI:
A Sentimental Education: Rousseau to Godwin

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This chapter considers three closely connected works that serve as responses to Richardson's Clarissa: Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Julie or The New Heloise (1761), Henry Mackenzie's Julia de Roubigné (1777), and William Godwin's Fleetwood or The New Man of Feeling (1805). Suggesting that Richardson had not given the passions or feelings their full due, Rousseau seeks to show that love is a natural passion, susceptible to a “natural education” of self-correction and some fortuitous shaping by others. But a Rousseauvian education—as is highlighted also by Emile (1762)—turns out to mobilize a double standard that endorses different virtues and educations for men and women. Only Julie's lover's Bildung entails the development of reason and judgment, and the capacity of self-direction. By contrast, Julie develops not judgment but a taste for gardening, clothing, and good food. According to Rousseau, man is educated into the freedom of using his own judgment, woman into the relative freedom of pleasing men. Mackenzie and Godwin challenge Rousseau's opposition of male and female virtues by dramatizing the tragic consequences of treating wives and daughters as second-class citizens in the republic of virtue.

Keywords: Sentimentalism; Education; Bildung; Taste; Nature; Self-direction; Jean-Jacques Rousseau; Henry Mackenzie; William Godwin

Chapter.  14117 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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