In this paper I will use the Persian Letters to illustrate a European’s view of both European and Asian government and religion. Montesquieu criticizes European their sense of liberty and worth. He then advocates European’s strength of the government and monarch ship. His views about Asian government and religion differ in that he thinks and believes that the Asian government is one that he can easily conform to less strict government laws place onto the people. His representation of Asians reflects that he feels out of place and humanized when comparing the different aspects about his own society.
As successful as Europe’s government has been, Montesquieu finds great flaws in it. In the various letters he gives multiple accounts examining how their government is too cookie-cutter in structure. He speaks on how there is a belief of holding onto traditional values. “ In Paris, liberty and equality prevail: neither birth, nor virtue, nor even success in war, however outstanding, can save a man from being lost in a crowd. Social jealously is unknown” (Letter 42). Here you see how Montesquieu backs his claim on how Europe’s system attempts to hold everyone to certain level of power.
Religion in Europe isn’t perfect either; Montesquieu depicts the religious heads as manipulators of the people just as bad if not worse than the government. Montesquieu speaks on how no two powers are equal; that there has to be one who is always stronger. With Europe church set up of having the pope at the head of the church elaborates on this distortion of powers. “ There is another magician, stronger than he…he will make the king believe that three are only one. ” (Letter 24), We are able to see how even though the King of France is the most powerful in Europe he too is manipulate that what is believed to be the pure and righteous.
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Through his criticisms, Montesquieu still finds certain aspects of Europe’s Government to be strong and stable. In any order there is always fault. Nothing nor anyone is perfect. Analyzing the king himself provide a proper image of someone being proclaimed powerful but at that very same time weak. “ He had an innumerable number of invisible enemies in his kingdom, surrounding him. They say that he has searched for them more than thirty years… he has been unable to find a single one… they say he will have the vexation of dying without being able to find them. (Letter 24)
Here Montesquieu displays the false image portrayed thee king and at the same time acknowledges his effort to continue to maintain his reign without stepping out of line. Obedience seems to be the strongest assist of both Europe’s government and religion. The strictness of the country is seen very harsh when one step out of line even though the cruelty of the punishment does not measure up to way in which punishment is carried out in some parts of Asia. Looking at a comparison of the cultures, we saw how a small crime in Europeans eyes was nearly meaningless when looking at how Asians would interpret the punishment.
One can take from this that Montesquieu seemly against this order if the state, can still resects and acknowledges how well they keep balance amongst their subjects. Based off how the letters were written one can thing that Montesquieu greatly favored the Asian was. If by looking deeper into the context of the letters Montesquieu had some critic their government system as well. Montesquieu seemed to adore the social aspects of the Asian culture more than that of the Europeans. He elaborated how great leaders earned their power and respect was given out when needed.
Another issue present is the critiques that women are not value at all and men hold the power. Another opposition made against the lifestyle against of the Asians is their lack of government. There is a system in place that but he disagrees with their sense of ruling under fear and the imbalances in the people of society Montesquieu’s views on Asian government and society reflect in my opinion provides the needed base that allows the reader to gain a better understanding of European customs than if we solely viewed how he felt towards Europe.
The comparison between the two provides us with both the positives and negatives of which society is run in Europe. Through this reflection I feel Montesquieu attempted to show the readers that Those brought up in European states were taught how to live and were a great asset to Asian culture were learning to follow their natural instinct.
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