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Terrorism in Historical Perspective Custom Essay

1. One of the most significant and potentially problematic episodes in Friedrich Schiller’s William Tell (1805) is Tell’s assassination of the Austrian governor Gessler in the last part of the play. Based on the evidence in this play, what is Schiller’s stance toward tyrannicide? How do his views reflect the political and international situation of his day? To what extent does this play touch on earlier philosophical and theoretical discussions of tyrannicide? Make sure to consider not only the confrontation between Tell and Gessler but also how it fits into the play as a whole.
2. Dostoevsky’s novel The Possessed/Demons (1872), which we read in the dramatization by Albert Camus, was based on the so-called Nechaev Affair of 1869, in which Sergey Nechaev, the leader of a revolutionary cell at the University of Moscow, killed or had killed a member of the cell named Ivanov after he attempted to leave it. Ivanov’s body was dumped in a hole in the ice (this was late November in Moscow!) but it was soon found. In the ensuing police reaction, many of Nechaev’s followers were arrested while Nechaev himself slipped across the border to Switzerland. Based on the evidence in The Possessed, how does Dostoevsky understand the origin, nature, and adherents (leaders and followers) of Nechaev’s form of revolutionary violence? What does he see as the role of “nihilism” in it? Given other things we have read, what are the strengths and limitations of Dostoevsky’s approach to understanding terrorist violence in this era? NOTE: you will want to consult the pieces by Bakunin and Nechaev in Voices of Terror, as well as the essays by Verhoeven and Miller.

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