Marie Antoinette: Letter to Her Mother 1773

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HIS 101—Fall 2012                                                           Name:  Rachel Wang Worksheet for Document Analysis                                 Analysis #: 1

Document Title: Marie Antoinette: Letter to Her Mother 1773
Author: Marie Antoinette
Date Written: September 10, 2012
Location: Paris

1.    How would you describe what this document is?   What was its purpose?  What function did it serve?

Marie Antoinette, as a letter, wrote this piece of literature to her mother. It was written in 1773, and since Marie was born in 1755, this would make her the age of 18, or the prime of her youth. The letter shows the excitement of a young queen-to-be showing her appreciation…first, of the letters that she received from her mother and secondly, telling her mother of her travels and her trip to Paris in particular. She describes her joy and excitement of meeting the citizens, but pays specific attention to the peasants of Paris. The letter serves as written proof or documentation of the demeanor of the citizens, perhaps a glimpse of how neighboring territories may have felt towards Marie Antoinette. Since it was a letter written by her, it also gives us the reader, an idea of what Marie may have been like by noting the tone, attitude, and style of her writing. This gives us the reader, excellent insight of what her character may have been like.

2.    Who is the author of this document?  What is his/her social position (this could include age, gender, ethnicity, social class, political position, insider/outsider, or anything else that strongly influenced their sense of “place” in society)?  Which line of text best indicates how the author views or wishes to present him/herself?

Marie Antoinette wrote this letter herself, and in this moment she would have been at a high political standing having just married Louis Auguste in 1770. She is, of course, a female and a young woman who is about to take the throne in the following year when Louis XV dies. She was of Austrian decent and her father was the Holy Roman Emperor and her mother was the Empress of Austria. Born with a silver spoon in her mouth despite being one of fifteen children, she was married off to one of the most powerful empires in Europe. As a woman in that era, Marie Antoinette is monumental because she seemed to be more similar to a contemporary 21st century woman that we find today. On many accounts, it is recorded that she stays up well into the night exploring the nightlife of her empire and sleeps well into the afternoon. In the letter, Marie writes to her mother that the dauphin (Louis XVI) and herself told the guards not to harm the citizens that were surrounding and crowding upon their arrival. I believe this line shows her kindness and mercifulness towards her people. Just the fact that she is overjoyed from receiving the love of her followers shows how human she is despite being in such a high political position.

3.    Which historical events or movements had the greatest influence upon the creation of this document?   Which line(s) of the text lead you to this assessment?

Since in this moment in time Louis XV has yet to pass on, Marie Antoinette has yet to succeed to be queen, however actively serves as princess of France. Her marriage is still fresh therefore her visit in Paris would cause an excitement within the nation since it created a unity between Austria and France. Famously Marie Antoinette is always described as beautiful and full of character, it is only natural that the citizens of France would feel lucky to encounter feelings of joy and at the same time not harbor any feelings of remorse or resentment as she had not claimed the throne (clearly the love fades since her death is caused by being beheaded). She seems to not be completely familiar with her husband, Louis XVI, yet as well. Note in the bottom of the letter Marie writes, “ …gave great pleasure on that glorious day, was the...
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