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Maya M.
English Assistant Teacher, Masters in History
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Literature
TutorMe
Question:

Compare and contrast Rousseau’s “A Discourse on Inequality” and “The Social Contract”

Maya M.
Answer:

In 1754 Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote A Discourse on Inequality in which he discussed the source of inequality among men and the state of the natural man. Several years later in 1761 he wrote The Social Contract, which examined the ideal society and although these two works shared some of his original ideas, they deviated on several points. Central to the comparison between these two states are the issues of collectivism and self-preservation, virtue, the general will, and empathy. These themes are used in order to demonstrate the manner in which the savage but transparent natural man once lived in comparison to the way the civilized and inauthentic member of the ideal society lives. The evolution of Rousseau’s philosophy can be seen in his perspective on the independent state of the natural man, who “…was equally without any need of his fellow men and without any desire to hurt them…” (Discourse, 104). The human in the state of nature was focused on self-preservation, he was complete in himself and neither needed nor wanted the company or assistance of others. He did not wage war or make peace as he had all that he needed and any future need was basic and easily obtained. Conversely, the ideal society was rooted in elements of collectivism, the fate of the group was dependent upon the effort of all, “…each man gives himself to all…” (Social Contract, 61). The general will was vital to sustaining the welfare of the state and unlike the natural man who thought not of harming his fellow, in the ideal society those who failed to observe and follow the general will above his own private will, “…shall be constrained to do so by the whole body, which means nothing other than that he shall be forced to be free…” (Social Contract). In the state of nature one cannot force another to be free, because every natural man was inherently free. Conversely, in the ideal society one’s free will was closely connected to the general will. Working together in the civilized society to create a place where civil and moral liberty would thrive required the consent and effort of every member striving towards the common goal; however, this resulted in the loss of their natural liberty “…which has no limit but the physical power of the individual…”(Social Contract) whereas, in the state of nature man had this natural liberty and because he relied only on himself, “…it is impossible to enslave [him]…each man there is free of the yoke and the law of the strongest is rendered vain” (Discourse, 106). Thus, although in the ideal society the civilized man gained civil liberty, he had lost the primal urge for self-preservation and had instead come to believe in the preservation of the group and the continuation of the state. However, there were themes that were pervasive throughout both works, one of which was that of the value placed on freedom. The natural man relied on himself alone and because he was free from, “…the mutual dependence of men and the reciprocal needs that unite them…” (Discourse, 106) he experienced true freedom. Although he was driven by his impulses and in this way, akin to beasts, the natural man answered to no unjust overlord, as those who lived in the modern world and outside of social contracts were often forced to do. Similarly, in the ideal society the civilized man, living within a social contract, experienced a different form of freedom, that of moral freedom, “…which alone makes man the master of himself; for to be governed by appetite alone is slavery, while obedience to a law one prescribes to oneself is freedom” (Social Contract). This moral or civil freedom provided the members of society with reason and release from the impulses that governed the actions of the savage man. However, if one broke the social contract, “…every man regains his original rights and, recovering his natural freedom, loses that civil freedom for which he exchanged it” (Social Contract, 60) thus, he was returned to the original state of nature, bound to his impulses and free to do as he desired. In conclusion, the Discourse on Inequality and The Social Contract each discussed the manner in which man lived—as a savage being who though ruled by instinct, possessed great empathy and the desire for self-preservation or as a civilized member of a social contract intent on working for the good of the general will at the expense of their natural freedom. Rousseau offered critiques of both ways of life and although he believed it impossible to return to the state of nature, elements of that lifestyle such as man’s transparency were essential to the establishment of a successful state. These themes of virtue, authenticity, and the general will would be vital to later philosophers and revolutionaries who sought to build the ideal society in which man could live with equality and freedom.

European History
TutorMe
Question:

How did the events of 1346 help the English dominate the first phase of the Hundred Years War?

Maya M.
Answer:

The Hundred Years War (1337-1453) was a turning point in English military strategy and Anglo-French relations; more specifically, 1346 was the year that established the progression of the First Phase of the Hundred Years War. Indeed, the events of 1346 profoundly impacted the Battles of Poitiers (1356) and Agincourt (1415). Influenced by the Scottish campaigns of the 1330s and 1340s and the great naval battle at Sluys in 1340, Edward III’s chevauchée of 1346 and the Battle of Crécy (1346) defined the year and set a precedent for subsequent English campaigns, such as the one led by his son, Edward the Black Prince, nearly a decade later. Thus, 1346 was more than merely the year that cemented English ascendency in the war; it set the tone for the course of the ensuing years and greatly influenced the development of chivalry in England. It was in this early phase of the Hundred Years War that English chivalry adapted from strictly adhering to the traditional codes and standards to a more realistic perspective that considered the benefits of promoting based on merit rather than class and an increased reliance on archers in the formation of the English army. Indeed, a number of prominent leaders of the military had rather humble origins, low born knights such as Sir John Chandos and Sir James Audley were able to rise in importance in the ranks of the army because of the greater consideration Edward III and his son, Edward the Black Prince, placed on skill rather than lineage. Knights such as these greatly benefitted the English cause through their expert counsel and leadership, and formed some of the original members of the Order of the Garter, a military fraternity designed to honor those who served well and to discuss matters of tactics and strategy. The campaigns led by Edward I and Edward III in Scotland largely impacted the events of 1346. It was there that the English first learned that well-trained dismounted soldiers, who armed with a longbow, could successfully repel a cavalry charge. Longbows had been in use by the peasant class throughout England to hunt for many years, however, the English realized in the 1330s and 1340s the value of the longbow in military engagements. At the Battle of Halidon Hill in July 1333 the English used these archers in coordination with the cavalry to effectively defeat the Scots. Around 20,000 Frenchmen were slaughtered at the Battle of Sluys; indeed the devastation was so great that contemporaries described the water as so full of corpses that one could not tell whether they were swimming in water or blood. Sluys was the definitive moment where the power of the longbow was finally realized. The decided victory in favor of the English was ultimately the result of the archers Edward III had stationed on the ships of his fleet. English control of the Channel guaranteed a reliable supply line to the forces fighting on the continent and protected England against raids by the French from the water. But even more important than this was the establishment of the longbow men as vital components of the English army, Edward made archery required throughout his realm and adjusted the formation of his army to best suit the range and devastating effect of the archers. This new organization of the English military was put into practice at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, which decimated the flower of French chivalry and established England as a major military force in Europe. Edward’s ability to see past the distorted lens of chivalry to the reality of sound martial tactics that relied not upon the gallant chivalric knight, but upon the united force of the lower class archers helped to define the Battle of Crécy and 1346 as a pinnacle of English strategy in the Hundred Years War. It was then that the true might of this new way of structuring his army was revealed, and thus the strategy adopted by the Black Prince and Henry V at Poitiers and Agincourt respectively, successfully utilized the lessons learned at Crécy against the French. The innovations of 1346 created a legacy of military ascendency for the English and set the precedent for the tactics used at these later battles. 1346 was a year of great change and innovation for the English. Their successful chevauchée achieved its purpose of bringing riches to the soldiers and disorganizing the French crown and countryside. The implementation of the longbow in a pitched land battle marked a change in English 14th century military tactics. The archer became an integral part of the army and was largely responsible for the successes of the English at the Battles of Poitiers and Agincourt in later years. 1346 determined the progression of this early stage of the Hundred Years War in the favor of the English. Their use of the longbow and dismounted soldiers was a revolution in English tactics, which ultimately became a central component of their military strategy. Furthermore, the successes of the English in 1346 surprised and weakened the French crown that was unable to effectively combat Edward’s chevauchée or his reliance upon archers. Hence, as the English grew in power and military supremacy in 1346, the French began a slow decline that would not be reversed for many years.

Art History
TutorMe
Question:

Explain the elements of Dadaism present in Marcel Duchamp’s "Bride Stripped Bare by the Bachelor, Even".

Maya M.
Answer:

Firstly, elements of Dadaism are evident in the title, "The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even". Rejection of the status quo and divergence from mainstream society and it’s expectations are found here in Duchamp’s somewhat nonsensical word play. The first portion of the title is a grammatically correct phrase, but the addition of the enigmatic ‘even’ suggests an unfinished quality to the work, and in fact Duchamp never did fully complete the piece, calling it "definitively unfinished". Additionally, his love for word play is also evident in the French translation of the title, where the ‘même’ or ‘even’ is homophonous with ‘m’aime’ or ‘loves me’, thus the title would sound like, The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Loves Me. Moreover, in true Dadaist fashion, instead of relying solely on a more traditional medium, such as oil, Duchamp uses pieces of lead, foil, and wire to add texture and depth to the work. The colors range from black to dark brown and gold, giving the viewer the impression of something indistinct and lacking the sense of life that more vibrant colors often bring to paintings. Additionally, he left the dust that accumulated on the piece as it sat in his studio, giving a sense of the passage of time in an otherwise static work. This contrast supported the feeling of discord that was common throughout the minds of those who lived during and after WWI. WWI strongly impacted the Dada movement, inspiring many artists to flee Europe and create in the United States-a country less influenced by the rigid and perhaps antiquated expectations of the French Academy, a place where artists could look forward to the future and embrace the changes of the early 20th century. Furthermore, the work features large cracks in the glass, which occurred while the piece was being transported, however, Duchamp kept these to reinforce concepts of spontaneity, chance, and discord—central themes in Dadaist art. Duchamp desired to break away from the conventional focus on the retinal appeal of art. The use of glass panels reminds the viewers of windows, as if they were looking into some absurd scene taking place outside; it furthermore incorporates whatever is on the other side of the piece, giving a different background to the viewer depending on where it was placed. This enabled him to dispense with the conventional components of landscape, background and setting.

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