Example research essay topic: Rene Levesque’s Journey To Stardom – 684 words

By November 1976, Rene Levesque was already a
mythic figure in Quebec. A full-blown star for
twenty years, first as a television host and then
as the most outspoken member of the Liberal
cabinet of Jean Lesage from 1960 to 1966, he
projected a personality that seemed transparently
honest, impulsive, mischievous, modest, outspoken,
and provocative. His foibles – a chain-smoking
sloppy dresser, he was a notorious night owl,
working and then relaxing until the early hours –
were as endearing as his strengths. A study of
Levesque is, in large part, a study of language,
gesture, and culture – for, in a homogeneous
society with a strong oral tradition, Levesque was
a cultural force as much as a politician. An
artist. A performer.

A star. In 1964, the novelist
and filmmaker Jacques Godbout called Levesque
“Quebec’s first lay teacher”, and compared him to
Quebec’s symbolic hero, Maurice Richard. It was a
telling comparison, for Maurice Richard, the dark,
explosive hockey legend with the smouldering eyes,
is a symbol of both pride and humiliation,
remembered for his scoring triumphs, his martyred
rage, and his bitterness against the NHL and Les
Canadiens management. (Richard is the only hockey
player whose suspension provoked a nationalist
riot.) Levesque’s career had been a torrent of
words: a seemingly unending exhortation to
Quebecers, emerging in a stream of prose that has
been described as “an original mixture of joual,
popular phrases, freshly coined words, American or
English expressions that have been more or less
gallicized, all expressed in long sentences
plaited with an incredible association of ideas.”
At his best, Levesque personified simplicity and
action: in place of the vanity and rhetoric of
traditional politics in Quebec, he brought a new
energy and openness. He spoke in provocative,
firecracker phrases, constantly surprising,
exciting, challenging his audiences. As a public
figure, he seemed rumpled, casual, informal, and
accessible.

Levesque was a constant smoker;
cigarettes seemed part of his restlessness,
together with his squint, his twitches, his
shrugs; they filled his spaces, just as the
rhythms of the smoke seemed to shape his looping
sentence structure. Politically, Levesque would
adopt labels and self-definitions – and then
thrust them away impatiently. Ultimately, he lived
his ideological commitment in an intensely
personal way, forging his political decisions out
of events rather than ideas. Long after he might
have been isolated by his own celebrity, he
remained intellectually curious, questioning
ordinary people he met with a seductive intensity,
reading widely and voraciously, bolting from
people or ideas that might limit him. But there is
another side to Rene Levesque. He is a restless,
solitary man.

Distrustful of many of the people
around him, distant, suspicious, stubborn, he
remembers slights, embarrassments, and grudges
with slit-eyed bitterness years after everyone
else has forgotten them. And despite his apparent
casualness, he calls very few people “tu”; people
who have worked with him for years call him “vous”
and “Monsieur Levesque”. Sometimes it seems as if
there are two Rene Levesques: one modest, witty,
curious, tolerant and open, widely read and taking
a spontaneous pleasure in new people and new
ideas; the other distant, cool, suspicious, and
narrow, with a vindictive streak. He seems to
oscillate between humility and humiliation, pride
and resentment, generosity and vengefulness. Many
people have remarked on his paradoxical impulses.
Camille Laurin, the psychiatrist who was to become
an important member of his cabinet, once described
them vividly. It is a description that has
remained valid over the years.

“Ever since I began
working with him, Rene Levesque seems to me to
have understood and empathized with the
contradictions facing every Quebecois which compel
him to strive for liberation and at the same time
prevent him from achieving it. This is why he
himself oscillates between the light and the dark,
impatience and confidence, tenderness and seventy,
scolding and the call to self-betterment, whenever
he thinks to himself or talks to others. This is
why he plumbs his own depths when in need of
counsel during times of crisis. This is why he is
a symbol of contradiction in everyone’s eyes, and
an object of recognition, hatred, and love.”.

Research essay sample on Rene Levesques Journey To Stardom