European history is full of examples of changes and developments of different countries at different times. Each period brought along specific features that shaped societies and peoples. Perhaps one of the most interesting and influential centuries in Europe's lifetime is the eighteenth century that brought about new changes in this continent's culture, politics, economics, and almost any field of its society. The history textbook The West: Encounters and Transformations written by Brian Levack and others provides a bountiful source of information regarding this time, since it includes many primary sources from this historical time such as paintings, travel journals and documents that depict characteristics of the society as well as some intellectuals' criticism about it. Paintings like William Hogarth's Marriage â la Mode, Joshua Reynolds' Mary, Duchess of Richmond, and written documents such as Denis Diderot's Rameau's Nephew and Other Works, and Daniel Defoe's The English Tradesman provide a realistic view of the western European eighteenth century society, its values, and its culture.
Thefirst source, Marriage â la Mode, found in page 556 of Levack's book, is a beautiful work of art created during a time in England when the impoverished nobility and the newly enriched bourgeoisie were finding ways to benefit from the changes in the economy and politics brought by trade expansion and colonization. The aristocracy made of rich land-owners was a small part of European society that could afford to live in luxurious palaces, consume the best of foods, and confirm their status and social importance through their display of wealth (556). On the other hand, there is the bourgeoisie, a lower status social class, that has made riches through mercantilism, but lacks the social power and status that they so much long for. In his work, Hogarth depicts the relationship between these…

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