The Great Cat Massacre Analysis

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Through a set of various essays spanning a plethora of topics, The Great Cat Massacre written by Robert Darnton and published by Basic Books in 1984, uses the common thread of stories to delve into early modern French culture. The book weaves through the fairy tales of the French Peasantry, the trial and massacre of cats in Paris, a man’s complete description of Montpellier, a police officer’s accounts of authors, the writing of the Encyclopédie, and finishes with the way people read philosophy and other texts. Through these six essays Darnton reveals the way that the people in France wrote and talked about things. They reveal the way that ordinary people interacted with their surroundings. For example, the fairy tales were a way of expressing the values that the peasants held to their children through stories. The man in Montpellier wrote such a comprehensive description of his city because he wanted to show a complete view of the city that he held so dear. It was also useful in…show more content…
In my opinion, it may be the revealing of the sentiments towards the upper classes in France –sentiments that later led to the Reign of Terror during the Revolution. The resentment towards the bourgeois became so encompassing, that the violence shifted from animal abuse to literally killing the French nobility. It began because of the mistreatment of the apprentices by their journeymen and masters under the guild system. A man by the name of Nicolas Contat was so angry that his boss’s cat was better cared for, that he snuck onto roofs mimicking feline noises. This perturbed the man so much that he authorized Contat to rid them of the cats. This set off a veritable slaughter. The apprentices rounded up every cat they could find, starting with the mistresses’ beloved grey one, and put them on “trial.” They found them all guilty and proceeded to hang and burn every cat at the
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