Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The life of Jean-Jacques Rousseau is that of an interesting man. Throughout his life, he made major influences on literature, music and even government. These changes also changed history. It all started on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland when Rousseau’s mother, Suzanne Bernard Rousseau, gave birth to him but died nine days after his birth due to a perpetual fever. After this, Rousseau’s father, Isaac Rousseau, fled Switzerland left Switzerland when Jean-Jacques was 10 because he got into legal trouble. This caused Rousseau to be raised by his Aunt and Uncle.When Rousseau was old enough, he moved to France and met a man named Denis Diderot. The two teamed up and edited the Encyclopédie. This was a major work for Diderot; however, it wasn’t as great of a deal for Rousseau compared to what else he did in literature. In the start of Rousseau’s career he composed music that everyone, especially the royal family, loved. He was called to royal gatherings and many important social functions to compose his works. He later decided he did not like the musical lifestyle and wanted to become something different.Since he already was so famous from composing, becoming a successful author wasn’t very difficult. In 1762, Rousseau’s greatest work was published. Du Contrat Social, or The Social Contract explained to citizens how government worked and explained that in order to have a more perfect society there are freedoms that you must give up. This book scandalized government officials and Rousseau’s works were banned and he was ordered to be exiled. In Rousseau’s exile he wrote autobiographies, his most famous being The Confessions. He gave people the idea that nobody is ever truly perfect and that they must accept that. Rousseau died in Ermonville, France soon after this was published.


1712- born 28 June 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. Mother died nine days after Rousseau’s birth due to illness. 1722- Rousseau’s father got into legal trouble, causing him to flee the country and leave Rousseau to be raised by his Aunt and Uncle1728- Ran away from Switzerland and traveled Italy and France. Met Madame de Warens and converted to Catholicism. Excommunicated from Calvinist church. He’d be readmitted in 1754.1742- Became an incredible successful composer.1762- published The Social Contract and Emile which scandalized the Jansenists. (religious movers arising from Roman Catholic Church)1763- books banned and Rousseau exiled. He said, “Enemies benefit me by expelling me from society”1768-78- wrote autobiographical work such as The Confessions, which was his most successful autobiography.1778- Rousseau died 2 July 1778 in Ermenonville, France.

1761- Julie, ou la nouvelle Heloise- This novel was published in 1761. It impacted the development of pre-romanticism and romanticism in Literature1762- Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and The Social Contract- inspired democratic government and social empowerment1762- Emile- spoke of the want for educational equality amongst the population and eventually influenced the population to speak for that want.1762- The Social Contract- Discussed the concept of giving up certain rights in order to maintain a more perfect society. The people did not know of this until the book was published and it has shaped society.1794- Interred as a national hero in the Pantheon, Paris.

Lasting Impact

In my opinion, Rousseau’s most significant work is The Social Contract. My reason for thinking this is because Rousseau took an unwritten political negotiation and wrote about it and made it a written political negotiation and explained it to readers. He inspired democratic government and social empowerment with that book, as well as getting an entire society to be governed by the general will. This work still impacts society today. The Social Contract is a theory which an unspoken agreement that a person’s moral and political duties depend on a contract to form a more perfect society. This entire theory has made up the entire basis of society for quite a while, Jean-Jacques Rousseau was just the first to write about it. After the book was written, it made an impact on citizens that was so huge, the book was banned in Geneva, Switzerland as well as Paris, France and he was exiled. The Social Contract has impacted society throughout the years and will continue to do so through the ages.

Works Cited

1. "Jean-Jacques Rousseau". Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2014. Web. 18 Mar. 2014. 2. Zuckert, Catherine H. "Remembering Rousseau." World History Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2014 3. Storey, Benjamin. "Self-Knowledge and Sociability in the Thought of Rousseau." World History Collection. N.p., Web. 19 Mar. 2014 .4. Deitz, Paula. "Citizen of Geneva; The hometown tribute to Jean-Jacques Rousseau." The Weekly Standard 24 Dec. 2012. General Reference Center. Web. 20 Mar. 2014. .5. Selected Political Works of Jean- Jacques Rousseau. 1998. Constitution. Web. 10 June 2014. .



“I may be no better but at least I am different.” -Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau


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