The Great Cat Revolution Analysis

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The French Revolution was an extended period of change inspired by the popular mentalities of social and political dissatisfaction. By analysing Robert Darnton’s “Workers Revolt” from The Great Cat Massacre, Timothy Tackett’s “When the King took Flight,” and Madame Roland’s “Memoirs of Madame Roland,” one can better understand the evolution of these popular mentalities leading up to and during the Revolution. Together these three texts provide a holistic perspective of the French Revolution by showing how the ideas of human rights and legitimate political sovereignty influenced the popular mentalities during the Revolution. The methods of popular action chosen to express these feelings of dissatisfaction would lead to the progression from moderate constitutional reform to the radical overthrow of the monarchy. In “Workers Revolt,” in The Great Cat Massacre, Robert Danton attempts to explain the hilarity of an orchestrated cat massacre by several printing apprentices in the 17th Century. Darnton’s interpretation of the event is important to understand the expression of pre-revolution popular mentalities through rituals. To a modern audience, the cat massacre seems cruel and inhumane. However, through Darnton’s examination of French culture at the time, the massacre can be seen as a ritualistic and thinly-veiled insult direct at the…show more content…
Roland explains, “when the people first rise up against oppression, wise men who have shown them the way and helped them to recover their rights come to power.” This is what happened when revolutionary leaders Georges Danton and Maximilien Robespierre came to power. However, Robespierre quickly ascended over Danton and established his dictatorial control through the Revolutionary Tribunal and the Committee of Public Safety (CPS). This dictatorial control is what causes Roland to believe that the Revolution had been hijacked as Revolutionary leaders were taking action that was similar to what they had originally
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