Analysis Of Hannah Arendt's On Revolution

1455 Words6 Pages
The French revolution is best known for the drastic changes it brought about in the social

and political structure of France in terms of class structures and political administration, this

transformation from Monarchy and Despotism to freedom and democracy was such that Europe

had never seen before. Across the Atlantic, the preceding revolution and struggle for

independence in North America was of a similar nature, it changed the political geography of the

It is essential to define revolutions in order to scrutinize them. Hannah Arendt, a writer

who ardently discussed the origin, nature and course of revolutions in her book On Revolution

brings up the notion that “crucial to any understanding of revolution in the modern age is
…show more content…
These ideas were compiled into a document called The Declaration of the Rights of Man

and Citizen. It included ideas such as the equality of man, the political aim to retain natural

rights, law as an expression of general will and limitations of liberty to the extent that no harm is

done to another. Given that this promising document was vital to all political action taken to run

the state, it would seem safe to assume that all citizens experienced its practical implications.

Unfortunately, there were many who did not have this privilege: women and slaves. Napoleon’s

dictatorship of France introduced policies that breached several established rights. Firstly, he

reintroduced black slavery in 1802. This not only overstepped the very first article by which all

“Men are born and remain free and equal in rights”2, it also went against the most fundamental of

all rights- liberty. Secondly, from 1802, most “revolutionary inventions in marriage and family

law were canceled” and “woman’s legal subordination to her husband within marriage and

subordination to paternal authority before marriage were reaffirmed”3. The second Article in
…show more content…
Moving on to the American Revolution, we see novelty and the idea of freedom but through a

different lens. The American Revolution, as opposed to the French Revolution’s subversion of

monarchy, was a struggle against colonialism; a struggle not within one’s country but with an

external power. “they had declared war, not against monarchical principles, but only against the

oppressive measures of the British ministry.”5 The values, ideas and ideals that emerged from

this struggle were materialized in two famous documents- The American Bill of Rights and the

Declaration of Independence. The first encompasses the rights that every citizen in America

ought to have some of which were the right to religion, speech and expression, the right to own

and use weapons and the right to own property6. The second document, which was put forward

as a representation of the unity and common interests of all the thirteen colonies of America,

reiterated that all men are equal and that they are “endowed by their creator with
Open Document