The Corday-Marat Affair: No Place For A Woman

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The Corday-Marat Affair Throughout the Enlightenment, revolutionary ideas of natural man dramatically shifted the traditional political sphere—the ancién regime—within France. Aiming to topple the totalitarian regime of the divine monarchy, the rhetoric of innate and natural rights of all man spearheaded the French Revolution of the late 18th century. Although the people fought for liberty, equality, and fraternity for all citizens, it became evident that women were not privileged to these innate rights in the public arena. For example, if a woman devised and carried out a politically driven assassination, her very involvement and political message could be excluded from art depicting the event. Therefore, her plight was destined…show more content…
David saw himself, as Dorothy Johnson pointed out in her book, Jacques Louis David: Art of Metamorphosis, “as a pictorial historian responsible to posterity for representing the Revolution (72).” By becoming a pseudo minister of propaganda, David was able to manipulate truth in order to represent Marat as virtuous, while defaming Corday as a deceitful anti-republican who disregarded society’s standards. The blurred gender role of Corday instilled fear within republican men—and the brainwashed women—to eventually disallow women to participate within the New Republic other than as submissive mothers/wives. This is turn creates what I believe to be a hypocrisy within the ideologies (liberty, equality, and fraternity) which the French Revolution fought to achieve. By excluding Corday from Marat, David foreshowed condemnation and fear towards intellectual independent women. Although she did assassinate a public figure, the punishment to all women clubs were overzealous and truly unjustified, as well as David’s blatant erasure of Corday from the
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