Louis Xvi of France and Napoleon

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Napoleon Bonaparte was remembered as the General and leader of the French army, the ruler of France as their First Consul, and the Emperor of France. Some thought positive of Napoleon, others thought negative of him, and Napoleon himself obviously thought positive of himself, too: ¡§Napoleon was a brilliant military commander who carefully planned each campaign, using speed, deception, and surprise to confuse and demoralize his opponents.¡¨

-Marvin Perry (Perry, 122)

¡§I closed the gulf of anarchy and brought order out of chaos. I rewarded merit regardless of birth or wealth, wherever I found it. I abolished feudalism and restored equality to all regardless of religion and before the law. I fought the decrepit monarchies of the Old Regime because the alternative was the destruction of all this. I purified the Revolution.¡¨-Napoleon Bonaparte (Chew)

But, who was Napoleon Bonaparte really? He was the ¡§heroic ideal¡¨ to some (Christ). And what mattered about Napoleon was not the man himself but the idea that he stood for in the minds of his contemporaries. Napoleon embodied the ¡§heroic ideal¡¨ of the Enlightenment aspect of the French Revolution. This whole dilemma about who Napoleon really was is basically a situation of ¡§Reality vs. Perception¡¨ (Carey). The appeal of Napoleon being the ¡§heroic ideal¡¨ developed upon perspective: ¡§What a thing is imagination! Here are men who don¡¦t know me, who have never seen me, but who only knew of me, and they are moved by my prescence, they would do anything for me!¡¨

-Napoleon Bonaparte (Bonaparte, 123)

Some people, who have never met Napoleon, who have only heard of him, want to criticize his ideas and beliefs without fully knowing who he is. For example, Percy Bysshe Shelley, the author of the sonnet ¡§Ozymandias,¡¨ thought of Napoleon as an arrogant and egotistical tyrant. He thought of him this way, for Napoleon embodied the ideal of the Enlightenment concept instead of the Romantic concept, which Shelley believed was right for the country of France. Because of this, in his piece ¡§Ozymandias,¡¨ the subject in the sonnet is very self-centered about his works:

¡§My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings, „³ (Emperor of France)
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!¡¨
-Percy Bysshe Shelley (Shelley)

If Napoleon was a believer of the Romantic concept and fulfilled the aspects of the Romantic concept, then Shelley would have thought of Napoleon in a more positive way. Beethoven, on the other hand, thought of Napoleon very positively. He thought of Napoleon so positively and believed in his ideas so much, that he dedicated Symphony No. 3 ¡§Eroica¡¨ to Napoleon (Symphony No.3 (Beethoven)). He believed in the heroism of Napoleon. Since Napoleon was the ¡§heroic ideal¡¨ of the Enlightenment, and believed in the concept of the Enlightenment, Beethoven idolized him, but not for long. After Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France in 1804, Beethoven lost faith in Napoleon because he became selfish. The reason Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France was because the Pope at the time, was going to crown him Emperor. But if Napoleon let the Pope crown him Emperor, then the Pope would also at the same time have the power to dethrone him. So, Napoleon did not want to give him the power of doing that. After this event, Beethoven had the same thoughts of Napoleon as Percy Bysshe Shelley did, that Napoleon was a tyrant. Beethoven took away the dedication to Napoleon away from his symphony. Unlike Beethoven and Shelley, Jacques-Louis David thought of Napoleon as a ¡§heroic ideal¡¨ from the time that David met Napoleon to the end. He thought of Napoleon this way, for Napoleon was paying David to promote him this way (Carey). That was what money could get Napoleon. Napoleon paid David to promote him as a great leader. David portrayed Napoleon as a great General in his painting ¡§Napoleon at Saint Bernard.¡¨ In the painting, Napoleon is riding on his...
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