Public Image as Seen Through Rousseau and Woolf

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Smith, Mary
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Public Image as Seen Through Rousseau and Woolf
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When looking at society through the lens of those inventing it and how the bias of those minds would affect it, we must also consider an essential question of our human existence, that is, what is one of the greatest dangers to society? I will begin by asking where does the need for public esteem and the drive for public image come from and how does it affect man’s place in society? To do so I will look at two different works. The first work is The Second Discourses by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In this work I will focus on exploring the origins and the importance of a public esteem. I will also be exploring the difference in the way men and women have shaped this need. The second work I will examine is Virginia Woolf’s A Room of Ones Own. Through this work I will analyze the difference in the amount of self-assurance men and women are taught to display, where it comes from, and whether public esteem is brought about internally or if it is a construct of the society man is living in. Both authors agree that need for public image and public esteem is one of the greatest dangers to society, they disagree however, in what originally necessitated that need. Rousseau claiming it is women and their desire for public recognition stemming back to the men dancing around the tree. Woolf claiming that it is the fault in both the education of the men and women which is the cause of this danger.
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