Lafemme stendhalienne et l'amour courtois dans Le rouge et le noir

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The vestiges of courtly love deployed in Stendhal's 1830 novel, Le rouge et le noir;, invite a re-examination of two of Stendhal's exceptional women, Mme de Rênal and Mathilde de La Mole. In my introduction (Chapter I "La femme stendhalienne et l'amour courtois"), Stendhal's theories on love from his 1822 work, De l'amour;, and René Girard's triangular desire provide a context in which to apply two courtly love paradigms--one, for instance, where male figures prove their valor as knights to revered, unattainable ladies (i.e. Tristan et Yseut;), another where two female figures seek the adoration of a knight (i.e. Lanval;). The nineteenth-century woman in French literature stems from a long tradition of extraordinary female figures. In Chapter II, titled "Mme de Rênal : La femme sublime," Yseut serves as a literary prototype for Mme de Rênal's pure, but adulterous character. In Chapter III, titled "Mathilde de La Mole : La femme impossible," Mathilde's hybrid identity and her daring final act attest to the impossibility of such a female figure in 1830. Notably, Le rouge et le noir; problematizes the "natural" roles of both middle-class and of aristocratic women. The conclusion (Chapter IV "Comprendre l'homologue féminin du héros romantique") evaluates the two heroines as female counterparts to the romantic hero. This thesis aims to tackle the subjective nature of coquetterie;, seduction and courtship with regards to female agency, specifically, and in so doing, hopes to fill a lacuna in nineteenth-century literary criticism.

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