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Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. It is tempting, watching Sophie get dolled up for Emile, to conclude that this is nothing but self-effacement. It is difficult to read 19 Zerilli, Signifying Woman, It is to understand how, for Rousseau, political and moral agency is possible only in the context of, through the enabling and constraining structures of, social interaction and material, bodily practices.
It is to understand how subjection is always a feature of political and moral agency. After identifying those subjecting interactions and practices as gendered, it is not, then, helpful to dismiss them as artificial and illegitimate. He continues: conceptualizations of the form, content, and goals of those bodily and institutional regulations. Mutual inclination ought to be their first bond.
Their eyes and their hearts ought to be their first guides. Their first duty once united is to love each other; and since loving or not loving is not within our control, this duty necessarily involves another, which is to begin by loving each other before being united. This is the right of nature, which nothing can abrogate.
Those who have hindered it with so many civil laws have paid more attention to the appearance of order than to the happiness of marriage and the morals of the citizens.
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You see, my Sophie, that we are not preaching a difficult morality to you. It leads only to making you your own mistress and having us rely on you for the choice of your husband. Attachment stems only from true love, and the duty to love truly cannot be commanded: it can only be self-authored. Its authority is rooted in inclinations, which are themselves determined by what is seen and felt.
Sophie must authorize her own duty, through her freely imagined desire.
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To ignore this is to be ignorant of everything that secures political order, over and against its mere appearance. How else could she be so sensible?
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How else could she be free? This other Sophie proves unenthusiastic about choosing a mate. I know that he is only a fiction. I seek someone who resembles him. And why cannot this someone exist, since I exist—I who feel within myself a heart so similar to his? No, let us not thus dishonor humanity. From a rhetorical perspective this passage, and indeed, the entire digressionary tale, constitutes a preterition, or a mode of inclusion that works by way of an insistence on omission.
So what is the point of this digressionary Sophie? It is perhaps tempting to read in her a cautionary tale about the illusions given to young girls, a sort of Sophie Bovary avant la lettre.
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But this is difficult to sustain, for several reasons. A second reason to be wary of the conclusion that the other Sophie underscores the need to suppress girlish illusion is that Rousseau himself points in a different direction. This suggests a third and final reason to suspect any lessons from a doubled and discarded Sophie: subsequent textual references in Emile to Telemachus throw into doubt the distinction between the original and its copy.
It will turn out that the real Sophie has also read FCnelon and has also been inspired by its lessons of masculine audacity and beguiling femininity. Neither does it prevent her from identifying with Eucharis, the nymph beloved by Telemachus, when she first lays eyes on Emile. Lacking the advantage of a literary facsimile, Emile has a harder time placing Sophie.
He does not see exactly the face he had depicted to himself. He does not know whether the one he sees is better or worse. He studies each feature; he spies on each movement, each gesture. Confused, embarrassed, fearful, he no longer dares to look around him for fear of seeing that he is being looked at. For both lovers, the discovery of interdependence and individuality obtains in the re constitution of bodily expression on the model of their respective object lessons: for Sophie, it is Telemachus; for Emile, it is Sophie.
As Emile and Sophie imagine sexual difference, they imagine the social order and their places and purposes within it.
Emile will never know the fierce demands of political duty or the exquisite severity of moral law if he does not feel them. This coincidence, which is the conceit of republican law, finds sensible, realized form in sexual roles only insofar as those roles are periodically transgressed. Here again we find boundaries—of identity, behavior, sentiment—whose violation is an anticipated, even vital, dimension of their initial construction. The final passages in Emile, at the end of Book V, depict the young couple newly wedded, three years after their first encoun28 Emile, Nature knows no other.
Law can restrict this right, but it cannot extend it. Voluptuousness is so sweet in itself! Emile immediately concurs, apparently limited in his comprehension by newlywed puerility. Be a fulfilled but respectful lover. By acknowledging that Sophie remains her own mistress, Emile consents to be ruled: only her desire can authorize the satisfaction of his own.
But when the will converges with desire, knowing what is commanded is as difficult as interpreting bodily signs. She will decide what Emile gets, but she will only ever get Emile. Here a profoundly political contrivance is used to shore up, indeed, to bring about, a romantic state of affairs, and it is in embodying the multiform postures of those who consent to be ruled that the lovers are preserved in their natural inclinations.
Or rather, its authenticity can be determined only with respect to its consequences. This tender tyranny is the domain of the mistress, but Sophie is also a wife and mother, thus the guarantor of familial integrity. But what emerges from the essay as a whole is the interdependence and interpenetration of the two. In what follows this etymological specification, Rousseau attempts to undercut any apparent similarities between the two forms of government by turning away from their common origin to consider their differing constitutions.
As a society, then, the household constitutes a natural hierarchy arranged by differences in age, strength, capacity, and sentiment, while the state constitutes a contrived equality of mutual obligations and always threatened tyrannies.
But fathers were always speaking in the name of the law. In the first and second instances, domestic patriarchy is cast as a response to the imperatives of efficacious rule. If it is biology that makes paternity precarious, it is politics that makes it matter. Suppose then that a clergy reaches the point where it subscribes to itself alone the right to permit this ac[t]. In that case, is it not clear that in establishing the authority of the church in this matter, it will render ineffectual that of the prince, who will have no more subjects than those whom the clergy wishes to give him?
Is it not also clear that the clergy—if master of whether to marry or no[t]—in behaving prudently and holding firm, will alone dispose of inheritance, offices, the Citizens, the State itself, which could not subsist if composed solely of bastards? There Rousseau offers as an example the situation of French Protestants who, following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, were 95 CHAPTER TWO Like the prince who is governor of the state, the father who governs the household must have assurances about the number and identity of family members.
But in this passage and in the Discourse on Political Economy, it is a juridical rather than a romantic sensibilitC that animates the desire for sexual exclusivity and surveillance. Juridical paternity is perhaps another way of forcing him to be free. This is not, of course, to deny the reality of biological parentage, but to insist that its meanings are inseparable from juridical forms. See also In the course of his journey Emile is enslaved, first to Moorish pirates and then to the dey of Algeria.
He writes to his 39 Discourse on Inequality, This Cducation sensible teaches him anew about submission and domination. Having felt the tenuously mediated nature of all freedom, Emile now measures justice not with respect to the chains one might wear but with respect to the equanimity that their wearing affords. This is a barbaric politics, to be sure, but it offers Emile freedom of a sort. He has found freedom in submission, philosophy in bondage, and justice in hard labor: perhaps he is only a starkly drawn version of what the tutor had always imagined.
So, too, Emile has re discovered the truth of natural servitude in the context of a barbaric politics, in the course of a journey that reverses the order of the one he undertook prior to his marriage. Do you know what government, laws, and fatherland are? Do you know what the price is of your being permitted to live and for whom you ought to die? Emile must know what it is to be a patriot before he knows what it is to be husband. It follows that expatriation is the consequence of the loss of his paternal power.
We had discussed them during our travels. And their application, although imperfect and quite small in scale in the situation I was 40 Emile, These political principles, which appear in Book V of Emile, repeat the basic claims of the Social Contract, including its derivation of the general will.
Stripped of his possessions, his country, and his Sophie, Emile, together with his semblables, has re learned the moral and political inevitability of domination and submission, and thus re gained his freedom and his identity. He now embodies what we first encountered with Sophie and what Rousseau is, in general, more ready to acknowledge in its feminine form : one can be subjected and, in so being, rule, or one can simply be subjected.