In Biography English movie Marie Antoinette (2006), There is discussion about American Revolution.

French Economic Man: The Americans are asking for help in their revolution.

Louis XIV: Well, I can't exactly see assisting those who are rejecting their sovereign.

French Economic Man: But it would make a strong statement to England.

Louis XIV: Can our finances take the strain?

French Economic Man: Oh, taxes will be raised slightly. I recommend we help our American brothers and show the rest of Europe our strength.

Louis XIV: All right, then. Send funds to America.

  • "I cannot really envision (myself, us) offering aid to those who are rejecting their king", that is, "I am having some difficulty envisioning (myself, us) offering aid to those who are rejecting their king." Why should we assist those who would reject their king's right to rule over them?
    – TimR
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 11:42
  • This can't be Louis XIV, who died in 1715; it's Louis XVI, who was married to Marie Antoinette and reigned during the American Revolution. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:26

1 Answer 1


The gerund phrase headed by assisting is the object or complement of see.

Can see in this context is an idiom meaning approximately “regard as desirable” or “regard as feasible”. (In some circumstances it can have the sense “regard as possible”, but I don’t think that’s in play here.) It’s typically cast as a negative:

I can't see assisting those who reject their sovereign = I don't regard assisting those who reject their sovereign as an appropriate action for France to take.

But hypothetical and positive uses are not unknown:

I could see raising taxes a little bit under some circumstances.
Telling England where to stick it—now that I can see!

Exactly is an adverb modifying see—basically a ‘hedge’ that takes some of the sting out of what would otherwise be a flat denial:

I don't exactly regard assisting these people as inappropriate (but that’s pretty close to how I regard it).

  • Is Louis XIV saying that "he can't care who don't need help from France"?
    – user60740
    Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:21
  • @user60740 No. Louis is a king himself: he naturally disapproves of subjects rebelling against their king. Commented Aug 15, 2017 at 12:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .