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Struggling Under the Destructive Glance

Androgyny in the Novels of Guy de Maupassant


Rachel M. Hartig

Struggling to free themselves from the controlling eye of the male, Maupassant's fictional heroines move from passive to more active forms of rebellion. Early heroines look inward to the world of dreams or turn their eye to a more sympathetic lover. Later heroines actively try to captivate the eye of the male, victimizing him in turn. In this aggressive game, however, the female protagonists risk losing their humanity.
Pursuing this analysis, based on the combined approaches of the Geneva critic Jean Starobinski in L'Oeil vivant (1961) and the American critic Carolyn Heilbrun in Toward a Recognition of Androgyny (1974), Dr. Hartig challenges, through textual analyses of the novels in their chronological order, the prevailing critical opinion that the psychology of Maupassant's female characters undergoes no change.
Contents: Part One: Maupassant and Androgyny: Shifting Patterns in His Life and Art - Part Two: The Women as Victim: The Women as Victimized by the Controlling Look of the Man - Part Three: The Man as Victim of the Immobilizing Eye of the Woman.