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Masochism Is Rousseau's Confessions

            In Confessions, Rousseau's development of masochistic sexual urges as a result of the guilt he feels over causing his mother's death is apparent. Rousseau conveys to the reader that because his mother died while giving birth to him, he is directly responsible for her death. As a result of this blame he takes upon himself, Rousseau develops a deep hatred of himself. He believes that every punishment he receives is well earned, and at the hands of Mlle Lambercier he even enjoys the beatings. At the time of his first thrashing, coming from none other than Mlle Lambercier, he becomes sexually aroused. And through these whippings, because they happen at such an impressionable age, he develops masochistic urges that remain with him throughout his life. Rousseau feels that by being beaten by a woman, he will be sufficiently punished for causing the death of his mother. .
             Rousseau views his birth, and the subsequent death of his mother, as a grave misfortune. Although he has no way of remembering his mother through personal experience, Rousseau revels in the memories offered by those who loved her most dearly. He explains that "she had besides both intelligence and beauty" (17) and that her "beauty, wit, and talents brought her admirers"(18). Rousseau also knows full well of the love that his father and mother had for one another, and he takes care to explain to the reader that, "it was inevitable that they should love one another for all their lives. They swore to do so, and Heaven smiled on their vows" (18). Rousseau's deep explanation of the bond that his mother and father shared speaks volumes of the guilt that consumes him knowing that he caused the separation of these soul mates. Rousseau describes his conception as "the unhappy fruit of [his father's] return" (19). His birth is not the celebratory occasion for Rousseau as it is for others. He sees his birth as "the first of my misfortunes" (19), and he "could never forget that I robbed him of her"(19).

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