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The article “From Folklore to Revolution: Charivaris and the Lower Canadian Rebellion of 1837”, written by Allan Greer, is the one I chose to critique. The thesis written by the author goes back to the same point, which was that the charivaris were an apparatus used by Lower Canadians to rebel against the colonial government at the time. The argument Greer used to back up his thesis was that the charivaris were deployed more or less to eradicate the local government administration.
“By the second week of November there was, to all intents and purposes, no official government presence in most of the populous rural parishes of the District of Montreal, and an elective magistracy and militia were beginning to operate in its place.” This quote represents the power of the political charivari towards the end but the early signs of it were explained earlier in the article.
“The central development of this period-one which led inexorably to the armed clash-was the breakdown of local administration in the countryside of western Lower Canada.” This quote explains how the political charivari were successful in their missions to breakdown the local governments. It also shows the clashes that they participated in which shows the violent side of the political charivari.
Another statement to support his thesis was “The governor reacted to this flagrant defiance by dismissing ‘disloyal’ magistrates and officers. Denouncing this move as further proof of British tyranny, Patriots who held the Queen’s commission but who had been overlooked in the purge made a great show of resigning.” The actions committed by the charivaris resulted in the further breakdown of local administration which was ran by government officials. The political charivari rebelled to the point where government officials were demanded to resign as the charivari were troubling their life to a point where that was the only option. This was supported in the article as he said “They were all appointed by the governor but they were definitely members of the communities they administered. Indeed, the inhabitants found various ways of ‘domesticating’ officials who appeared in theory to be the agents of an external power.”
Another point to further support the authors thesis is “There were many loyalists who tried to maintain their positions, even in areas where the population was overwhelmingly hostile to the government. From the Patriot point of view, these hold-outs were the willing agents of despotism and rebels against the emergent local regimes.” This shows the political charivari were thought of a strong rising power as not many officials remained and those who did were seen as the enemy to all. Going back to the thesis of the author the charivaris of 1837 were a tool used against the colonial government of Lower Canada and this was done by them by eradicating the local administration in great strides.
The author’s main argument is that the people of lower Canada agreed with the use of the charivari for political motives. This point was not elaborated upon by the author until the he went on to explain the rebellion in 1837. The first time he mentioned this event was on page 10 when he said “The Lower Canadian crisis of 1837, which culminated in armed insurrection in November and December of that year, grew out of the campaign for colonial autonomy and democratic reform led by the middle-class radicals of the ‘Patriot party’. Thanks mainly to the consistent electoral support of the bulk of the French-Canadian population, these liberal politicians managed to control the provincial legislative assembly.” This quote explains the rebellion and what it was. This came to fruition in the article on page 10. This means that the author spent the first 9 pages focusing on explaining the background of the charivari and what their ritual was.
What was surprising was that the main evidence to support his facts came later on in the article. I felt that the decision to do so made the article less impactful because if he brought up all of these facts and he supports the facts right away with solid evidence rather than dragging it along, it would help string the article along better. He did a great job showing the contrast of the charivari before and after the rebellion. He showed how the charivari became more and more violent with time. His research was very reliable as it came from mostly primary sources such as newspapers or journals at the time. This means that the facts wouldn’t change overtime.
To conclude, I found this article somewhat a bit more difficult to read in the beginning as it took some time to get to the how and why.
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