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In Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Rousseau seeks to explain who he is by trying to paint layer by layer, a portrait of himself, without missing any details and having his end product being interpreted by his readers. Rousseau was born into a lower class family, part of the commons, in a childhood mixed with medieval and modern values and lifestyles. Rousseau was a product of a mother and father who married out of love, being born into a nuclear family rather than the traditional big family of the medieval times. His mother passed away at Rousseau’s birth and even though his father abandoned him at a young age, he still had a close relationship to Rousseau for he thought him how to read. As Rousseau grew older, he became independent and begun an apprenticeship as an engraver.
In his confessions, he reveals an experience of being beaten at the age of 11 by a much-loved female nanny twice his age—and desiring to be beaten again, which he evaluates as being his admission into the world of adult sexuality. Rousseau does not agree with the medieval traditions of corporal punishment. He believes beating children will lead them to become mischievous, sneaky, and sexual deviances. Rousseau’s intended audience was made for the general public of Europe to read. He wanted to express his individualism and try to get his audience to know his true self. Rousseau also wanted the public to know all his secrets and love him regardless so he can establish the personal bonds which he describes were stripped by money, “the money you have gives you freedom.
The money you pursue enslaves you”. Given that man contributes his mutual consent to money as a store of value in a society, Rousseau believes money has both positive and negative traits. He states that money is virtuous since it gives an individual independence but goes on to also state that money brings the disadvantage of breaking personal bonds. Moreover, the significance and effects of The Confessions reaches toward the emphasis of discipline and upbringing of children.
Rousseau tells his audience how childhood experiences can carry psychologically into adulthood, especially in relation to the development of sexuality and deviance. The Confessions influenced society to change. Even though some members where not comfortable with this change Rousseau had regardless already brought upon the ideas which reformed the way of many individuals’ outlook and thinking towards their families, children, money, personal bonds, private properties, etc.