The essay diachronically compares some declarations of man's rights such as Tom Paine's Rights of Man, the French Declaration des Droits de l'Homme et du Citoyen (1789) and, much later and after World War II, the Charter of the United Nations (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) in order to understand how the concept of ``human rights'' has evolved across time. The triumph of human rights is rooted in paradox and in their principles' patent violations during the age of the Holocaust. One of the most horrible consequences of the violation of human rights in that period consisted in the survivors' being doomed to silence for more than twenty years. The survivors' words had to confront the resistance of language to represent what sounded as unrepresentable and the people's refusal to listen: they were deprived even of the right to speak. The problem of authenticity and inauthenticity is called into question, recalling Geoffrey Hartman's Scars of the Spirit. From this perspective, the paper examines John Boyne's The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2006), Binjamin Wilkomirski's Fragments (1996) and William Styron's Sophie's Choice (1982), thus centring its focus on children's rights.
The ruins that appear in Piranesi's engravings can be seen as the metaphor for a social system which has disappeared but remains visible in its ruins. On these ruins a new system is erected which must take into account past tradition. You never build in a vacuum, even in law, but everything evolves. It is also Burke's idea in Reflections on the Revolution in France, where he criticizes the fact that the French have done away with their past instead of constructing and bringing about reforms from within a well assessed system. The ruins may epitomize the Roman juridical system upon which all subsequent juridical systems have been rooted. The Justinian code has been the basis for all systems, also for the Anglo-Saxon one, even if in the course of time the latter has distanced itself from the Roman system. This symbolic passage from times past to modern times is metaphorized by the Gothic picturesque garden, which plays with a taste for ruins, with the sublime sense of delight, so as to bring about a re-empowerment of a new juridical system.
This paper focuses on the creative or de-creative function of names in Romeo and Juliet. The dialectics between name and existence (or non-existence) is constant in the text. Let us consider “What’s in a name?” uttered by Juliet in 2.2; or the repetition of “banished” (3.2) where Romeo declares that death is in that word; or “Art thou a man?” (Friar, 3.3) that expands the meaning of man from legal to illegal entity; or also, and foremost, when Capulet threatens Juliet “I’ll ne’er acknowledge thee” (3.5), thus depriving her of legal personhood. Names can create a human being into a social being or they can deprive him of social existence. In addition to this we have Capulet’s power over Juliet which entails the problem of patria potestas: in his wish to deprive Juliet of the family name he de-creates her as a social being but also prevents her from becoming an independent adult.