Book Creator

Minseo French Revolution

by Minseo Lee


The Zenith of French Glory Analysis

Summary of the French Revolution
The French Revolution was a civil revolution that began on 14 July 1789 and ended on 28 July 1794. The main cause was a disillusionment with the government due to the economic crisis and unequal estate system. In the late 1780s, the French population was divided into three estates. The First Estate was the Roman Catholic clergy, the second estate was French nobles, and the third estate included merchants, lawyers, laborers, and peasants. Although the majority of the French population was the third estate, they had limited political power and a heavy tax burden, while the other two estates were exempted. Hence, the power of the first and second estates was high. Such inequality and economic crisis increased the discontent with the French monarchy, which triggered the French Revolution. As a result, it led to the execution of King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette by guillotine. Also, it changed the government from a monarchy to a republic and formed the constitution based on the principle of freedom and equality. 
Comic Panel 1
James Gillray
This political cartoon "The zenith of French Glory" is created by James Gillray, who was a British caricaturist. It was illustrated in 1793, which means this cartoon was drawn during the French Revolution. Gillray drew this cartoon to commemorate the beheading of Louis XVI. Also, as Gillray had a conservative stance on the French revolution, he used this cartoon as propaganda to show that the French revolutionaries could be dangerous. 
The technique of labels can be seen in the flag. “Vive l'Égalité” means “long live equality” in English and is labeled on the flag. However, it is ironic that they pursued ‘long live equality’ while killing monks and hanging them in the lamp post. It contradicts their beliefs, which is ironic. 
The label can be seen in the Phrygian cap. 
In the cartoon, a man is sitting on the lamp post. "Ca ira" is written on his hat, meaning 'it will be fine' in English. Ca ira is a song sung by the working-class radicals during the French Revolution. However, as the brutal background contradicts the hopeful lyrics, it creates an irony. It connects with the Gillray's stance on the French Revolution. 
Lastly, the technique of labels can be seen in a hat. “Libertas” is labeled in the hat next to the man sitting on the lamp post. Libertas is the Roman goddess and personification of liberty, and it means 'liberty' or 'freedom' in Latin. Also, the hat hung high, which signifies that the revolutionaries craved freedom.