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Montesquieu And Equiano

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Montesquieu and Equiano

During the eighteenth century new ideas were examined and exchanged by society. People started to question monarchy, religion, and human equality. Discussions were held at formal and informal gatherings and the philosophical movement known as the Enlightenment began. The Enlightenment was a rare historical movement that initiated in London and Paris. It got its name from philosophers and writers that believed they were more enlightened than others and set out to enlighten them. The views and writings of two influential thinkers during this time will be considered in this paper Montesquieu and Equiano.

The Spirit of Laws represents the tone of the Enlightenment era by examining government practices and sparking conversation about change in the status quo. Charles- Louis de Secondat, Baron Montesquieu was born into privilege in France he inherited land, and a position in Parlament of Bordeaux. He authored The Spirit of the Laws in which he encouraged and examined a government that would practice on behalf of the people. In these writings he divided government into three different levels. He categorized the levels as spirits, for example; virtue and moderation in republics, honor in monarchies, and fear in despotism. Montesquieu's Spirit of Laws goes into detail about how his idea of three branches of government would separate the powers in the government. In not giving one person absolute power as in monarchy, he demonstrated that it avoids corruption. He also pointed out that laws work best when they were custom to the people and their culture. His writings were considered really radical during the pre-Enlightenment, because at this time a government run by the people was a new concept. However, the stage was set for this new way of thinking in that nobility and wealthy merchants formed a new type of class. These new classes of educated men, welcomed a new view on how to run things and were open to suggestions and discussions.

In contrast Narrative of the Life of 
Olaudah Equiano shows a different side of the Enlightenment era in that it was the beginning of his enslavement and direct violation of his right to freedom. In his narrative, Equiano describes his short-lived childhood with cultural



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