If I were given a chance to meet anybody who has ever lived and spend the whole day talking to that person, I would choose the French Queen Marie Antoinette. The reason for my choice is not her extraordinary talents or achievements; instead, I am interested in how an ordinary woman could have made it through the turmoil of the dark times for the French monarchy, a difficult marital relationship and never lose her sense of dignity.
I admire Marie Antoinette first of all for having endured the challenge of spending all or most of
her time in public when she was still the wife of the French dauphine when she had to “on my rouge
and wash my hands in front of the whole world” (Wikipedia, 2006). To a certain degree, each of us
has to endure the challenge of being in public with one’s thoughts and feelings, and I would ask her
how she was able to withstand this trial. I would also ask her how she managed to remain modest and
nice to people surrounding her so that Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan in his memoirs remembered of
her as “unwilling … to be reminded of her elevation” (Campan, 2004, p. 10).
I would want to see the person who, by will of chance, was lifted to the highest position a woman could command in Europe of those times, yet remained affable and pleasant to her subordinates and unwilling to impress herself on them and humiliate anybody at a time when it was all too common in the nobility.
If we had a chance to talk at length with Marie Antoinette, I would also ask her what she considers to be her mistakes at court and how she would have corrected them if given a chance. She surely had quite a few, but, after all, historian Simon Sebag Montefiore could have been right saying that Marie Antoinette was “a woman more sinned against than sinning” (Wikipedia, 2006). I am interested in learning what she thought of her life when it came to such a disastrous end as the execution in the French Revolution. Did she blame the crowd? Or was she reproaching herself for not having done more to protect her image in the eyes of the people? Marie Antoinette surely could not have averted the revolution that happened because of someone else’s sins, but she perhaps had a chance to appear less self-indulgent to the people.
This is one more thing I could address, as well as ask how she could demonstrate that outstanding courage when she stood on the balcony of the royal palace in Versailles at the point of many guns aimed at her, and how she could have been so strong at the time of the execution. I believe that her strength demonstrates what an ordinary woman can do in the face of danger and teaches us a lot about how one should never lose a human face when challenged in any way. A talk with Marie Antoinette could give me profound insights into the nature of people and reveal many interesting points.
References Madame Campan. (2004). Memoirs Of The Court Of Marie Antoinette, Queen Of France, Complete Being the Historic Memoirs of Madam Campan, First Lady in Waiting to the Queen. Retrieved June 2, 2006, from http://www.gutenberg.org/catalog/world/readfile?fk_files=93780&pageno=1 Wikipedia. (2006). Marie Antoinette. Retrieved June 2, 2006, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marie_Antoinette
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