Thoughts on Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Europe Essays

Thoughts on Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Europe Essays

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In the aftermath of the dual revolution, European society underwent vast changes spanning all aspects of society. Political ideologies began to evolve congruently with changes that were occurring across the continent. Various conservative, liberal, and utopian viewpoints emerged, critiquing the new modern society. The critiques encompassed all aspects of society, including the ideas of marriage and family. Three prominent intellectual figures that proposed differing ideas on marriage were Louis de Bonald, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Charles Fourier. All three came from various positions on the political spectrum; Bonald was conservative, Hegel a liberal, and Fourier a utopian socialist. Coming from different ideological backgrounds, their ideas on society, marriage, and family differed greatly.
The purpose of marriage to Bonald was to unite the opposite sexes in order to reproduce, with the end result being a family. He viewed the family as the basis of all society; marriage and the creation of the family were the key ingredients to the foundation on which society was to build itself upon, and continue to operate. Bonald contended, “The production and conservation of man are thus the purpose of the family, and the reason for all relationships of sex and age which constitute it.” (Bonald, 126). With this statement, he made clear that reproduction was the sole purpose of marriage, never placing any emphasis on the happiness or pleasure of the two spouses. Once the family was created, Bonald argued that the bonds the family built were not out of natural compassion, rather that they were learned. He did not see man as naturally obtaining the ability to maintain and cherish their position in the family, rather he learned the...


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...ver, resulting in a well-rounded person rich with virtue and wisdom. Fourier's emphasis on unsuppressed freedom within the context of a completely new way of living – that of harmony – is what defined him as a utopian socialist. He sought to disregard most every traditional aspect of society and begin a new way of life.
The ideas of these three men presented unique views on the purpose of marriage and family in modern European society. Bonald's was representing the conservative ideas of restraint and control, Hegel's found a middle way between left and right, and Fourier's showed the views of the ultra-left utopian socialists. Nonetheless, their ideas give insight to political thought during a time of modernization in Europe. A time which introduced an unfamiliar way of life, which challenged the people to start questioning the way in which society should operate.

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