Literature Study GuidesRights Of ManPart 1 Observation On The Declaration Of Rights Summary

Rights of Man | Study Guide

Thomas Paine

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Rights of Man | Part 1, Observation on the Declaration of Rights | Summary

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Summary

Paine points out the first three articles of the Declaration of Rights are comprehensive—everything that follows originates from them. He also points out France is essentially attempting to undo what was wrong about its government at the same time as it is trying to chart a new "right" course. He makes the distinction a Declaration of Rights is inherently also a Declaration of Duties—the duties of each man to guarantee the rights of the other. Paine sees the declaration as more than simply the template of a revolution but as a regeneration of man. He hopes it can serve as an example to all other European governments still in the throes of oppression.

Analysis

Paine's inclusion of France's Declaration of the Rights of Man allows him to make his own observations about the reason for its creation and its benefits. He asks the question, "What are the present governments of Europe, but a scene of iniquity and oppression?" In Paine's view France leads the way in the "regeneration" of man, and its constitution can be used as a torch that lights the path for others to emulate. He quotes the Marquis de Lafayette, a French noble who fought in the Continental Army in the American Revolution, saying, "May this great monument raised to Liberty, serve as a lesson to the oppressor, and an example to the oppressed!" It is significant Paine encourages both governments and citizens to take something away from this example. It can be a "lesson" in that it shows oppressive governments revolution is not only possible but likely once citizens begin to realize the ways in which they are oppressed. It serves as an example to the oppressed because it shows a possible path forward—one that includes liberty, justice, and equality.

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