I. iNTRODUCTION TO FRENCH LITERATURE
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature. As of 2006, French writers have been awarded more Nobel Prizes in Literature than novelists, poets and essayists of any other country. France itself ranks first in the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country.
The French language is a romance dialect derived from Vulgar Latin (non-standard Latin) and heavily influenced principally by Celtic and Frankish. Beginning in the 11th century, literature written in medieval French was one of the oldest vernacular (non-Latin) literatures in western Europe and it became a key source of literary themes in the Middle Ages across the continent. Although the European prominence of French literature was eclipsed in part by vernacular literature in Italy in the 14th century, literature in France in the 16th century underwent a major creative evolution, and through the political and artistic programs of the Ancien Régime, French literature came to dominate European letters in the 17th century.
In the 18th century, French became the literary lingua franca and diplomatic language of western Europe (and, to a certain degree, in America), and French letters have had a profound impact on all European and American literary traditions while at the same time being heavily influenced by these other national traditions (for example: British and German Romanticism in the nineteenth century). French literary developments of the 19th and 20th centuries have had a particularly strong effect on modern world literature, including: symbolism, naturalism, the “roman-fleuves” of Balzac, Zola and Proust, surrealism, existentialism, and the “Theatre of the Absurd”.
French imperialism and colonialism in the Americas, Africa, and the far East have brought the French language to non-European cultures that are transforming and adding to the French literary experience today.
II. aUthor’s biography
Guy de Maupassant
Henri-René-Albert-Guy de Maupassant was born on August 5, 1850 at the château de Miromesnil, near Dieppe in the Seine-Inférieure (now Seine-Maritime) department in France. He was the first son of Laure Le Poittevin and Gustave de Maupassant, both from prosperous bourgeois families. When Maupassant was 37 and his brother Hervé was five, his mother, an independent-minded woman, risked social disgrace to obtain a legal separation from her husband. After the separation, Le Poittevin kept her two sons, the elder Guy and younger Hervé. With the father’s absence, Maupassant’s mother became the most influential figure in the young boy’s life. She was an exceptionally well read woman and was very fond of classical literature, especially Shakespeare. Until the age of thirteen, Guy happily lived with his mother, to whom he was deeply devoted, at Étretat, in the Villa des Verguies, where, between the sea and the luxuriant countryside, he grew very fond of fishing and outdoor activities. III. Elements of a Short Story
III. Elements of a Short Story
A. Setting of the Story
* Time: 19th Century, Second Half
* Place: Paris, France
* Mathilde Loisel-a pretty young woman born into a common, middle-class family. She yearns for wealth, privileges, and fashions of highborn young ladies * Monsieur Loisel-a government clerk in the Ministry of Education whom Mathilde marries * Madame Jeanne Forestier-a friend of Mathilde’s. She allows Mathilde to borrow a necklace to wear to a gala social event. * Loisel Housemaid-a girl from Brittany who does the Loisel’s housework. Her presence reminds Mathilde of her own status as a commoner
* C. Plot
Monsieur and Madame Georges Rampounneau-Minister of Education, and his wife. They invite the Loisels to the party.
Mathilde is a pretty and charming woman, born of simple roots and humble beginnings, relished with both the love and warmth of a family though not well-off financially yet considerably contemporary to the families in the middle of the hierarchy. She was married to Monsieur Loisel, a government clerk who works round-the-clock at the Ministry of Education. She has always dreamt of a life of luxury and leisure, with attentive maidservants, a large home decorated with coveted linens, expensive jewels and fancy silverware. Mortified of the humiliating state she’s in, she no longer visits Madame Forestier, an old friend of hers.
C2. Rising Action
The Loisels receive an envelope with a letter inviting them to an affair at the Ministry of Education, as honored guests of Monsieur Georges Rampouneau, Head and Minister to Education. Monsiuer Loisel gets an expression completely opposite to what he was expecting for. Mathilde grows worried and tirelessly distraught for she has not a single dress to wear for the occasion. She needs something extravagant and fancy, but a piece of clothing of such delicate formality would cost Monsieur Loisel a sum of four hundred Francs-the exact amount he’s been saving for to buy himself a rifle. The day of the fete draws nearer, and Mathilde becomes increasingly downcast and hopeless. Loisel begins to ask Mathilde the cause of her misery, and is later greeted with an answer of coveted jewelry. Monsieur Loisel suggests that she borrows jewels from her friend, Madame Jeanne Forestier. Mathilde wastes no time and visits her the following morning. Madame Forestier, agreeable and willing to cooperate, opens a box and tells her to choose one. Glittering jewels and sought-after handcrafted gems later, Mathilde cherry-picks a necklace, one encrusted with diamonds of genuine value.
The day of the party comes and Mathilde becomes the center of everybody’s attention. Highly-acquainted men of noble stature all ask who she is and start to line-up to dance with her. The Loisels revel in joy and merriment and left no longer than four in the morning. On their way out, Monsiuer Loisel puts a wrap around Mathilde’s shoulders-a piece of clothing from her daily wardrobe. She hurries out hastily to prevent herself from being seen in it. Subject to the frigid coldness of the early morning, they look for means of transportation. They later find a cab and are took back home to the Rues de Martyrs. In her bedroom, Mathilde stands before the mirror and gazes intently at the woman who has beguiled so many men. Then out of sheer horror, she untimely realizes that the necklace is gone. Mathilde begins to search through their things while Monsiuer Loisel retraces their steps, hopeful that he might stumble across the necklace they’ve lost. With bitter hopes and foul resentment, they find nothing and return empty-handed.
C4. Falling Action
Mathilde decides to write to Madame Forestier, informing her that the necklace’s clasp has been broken and is being repaired. They conclude that their only recourse is to replace it all in due time. They traverse Paris and go from jeweler to jeweler, hoping to know how a necklace of such appraisal could cost them. The Loisels find one at the Palais Royal, with a staggering value of thirty-six thousand Francs. To raise enough money, Monsiuer Loisel spends all of his savings and decides to borrow the rest, writing promissory notes and placing signature after signature on numerous contracts. The Loisels manage to buy it, and Mathilde takes it to Madame Forestier, who is considerably aggravated at how late it was given. The couple, thereafter, struggles to pay their debt. Mathilde dismisses their housemaid and does the housework herself-washing dishes, taking out garbage, and fulfilling other lowly pains. Monsieur Loisel, on the other hand, shifts to a bookkeeper and copyist.
A decade later, they manage to free themselves from debt. By this time, Mathilde is a full-on unmistakable commoner. She staggers with rough hands, unornamented clothes, and disheveled hair. Occasionally, she reminisces back to the day when she still had the necklace and when so many men admired her. What, then, would have happened if she never lost the necklace in the first place?
On one Sunday morning at the Champs Elysees, she encounters Madame Forestier. Mathilde addresses her yet Madame Forestier vaguely remembers anything at the spark of insight. After Mathilde identifies herself, she decides to tell her the truth. There would be no consequence or harm in fessing up since the necklace has already been paid full-on in Francs now-through all those painstaking nights of menial tasks and humble labors, working tirelessly to measure up to her obligation. But Mathilde never knew the other side of the story when she borrowed the necklace on that fateful day in France. It was fake, a non-discrete imitation with counterfeit diamonds and phony encrusted jewels. At most, it was worth five-hundred Francs, a sum evidently not worth wasting ten long years on staggering debt.
* Appearances are Deceiving
* Appearances are Deceiving
Mathilde Loisel believed the necklace genuine the moment she saw it. Likewise, she believed that all the people at the party were real, genuine human beings because of their social standing and their possessions. The necklace, of course, was a fake. And, Maupassant implies, so were the people at the party who judged her on her outward appearance.
v. creative presentation
deceiving. not everything
deceiving. not everything
is always as it seems.
is always as it seems.
Appearances are deceiving. Things are not always as they seem. Things, even people, are not solely judged on the surface. The things you do, the words you speak, and the silence of your thoughts say a lot about who you are and where you’ve come from. A piece of fruit may prove fresh and clean on the outside, but may turn out rotten and uncannily unkempt on the inside. A piece of jewelry may seem pretty and coveted on the surface, but may soon prove fabricated and fake.
To simply judge a book by its cover or to impulsively classify people by the color of their skin never does you any good. If you are too quick to judge and too hasty to comprehend, then judgment will toil and get the best of you. Resentment comes later, and we learn from our mistakes. Yet it is also better and pointedly wiser to practice prudence in thoughts, and patience in both scrutiny and human criticism. Our perspective towards ordinary people who are often subdued by irrational discrimination and stereotypical violence tells a lot about ourselves. The human mind is as subtle as a piece of paper; it is easily swerved and effortlessly influenced, either by moral thoughts or unethical standpoints and failures.
Einstein once said, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” If you constantly judge failure after failure and jump hastily into conclusions, people are bound to stagger and take fault after fault as wounds that scar and never heal. They are eventually lead to wallow in depression and self-pity; to wander aimlessly in the void of anxiety and thoughtless failure. You never know how a person does things if you never give them the chance to prove themselves.
Everybody is different. We stand out in different ways-at different things. If you fail to give yourself the opportunity to grasp the beauty in their flaws, you need to change yourself. The only factor troubling the equation, the only error that blocks common thought is you and your petty way of thinking. In all honesty, there is nothing wrong with people with defects or disabilities. If negativity arrives and consumes you, then the problem is not them, it’s you-inside you. The sheer lack of comprehension devours anything that’s left. And once it does, reasons are left unnoticed and haplessly ignored.
Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” introduced me to a whole new chapter towards the true meaning of Acceptance. I realized that we can never fully understand what real happiness feels like if we can’t find it within ourselves to let go of our immeasurably high standards in life and accept ourselves for who we are, and what we’ve gone through. Acceptance is about reeling in optimism to forego negativity; it’s about giving up on false hopes and ending broken promises. Life is almost always unfair. We fall down and wallow at depression.
We spend too much time focusing on closed doors that we fail to notice the one that’s newly been opened for us. We waste our time meddling with toilsome thoughts on depravity and failure-blinded by both our errors and resentments-that we lose track of what it is that truly matters: the truth. We overshadow the truthiness of our thoughts by allowing self-doubt and conceit to smother us mercilessly. We lose the capacity to think rationally and suffocate in total despair and agony-almost to the point of self-infliction and hate. But Hatred is vindictive. It is spiteful. It is pitiless, and hostile. We lose our chances the moment we lose ourselves. And when we lose our chances-the countless opportunities that have been shed to veer us towards acceptance-we lose at life. It is awfully bitter end, for an awfully bitter life.
People are people, and we can never change that. We are subtly driven to maddening influence and suffer relentlessly under the vetoes of hindsight. The human society possesses traits of opposing sides. Half refer to people who have fallen bitterly from grace and think ill of the other half-those who relish in the context of ecstasy and juvenile jubilation; of wonders at liberty of both haste and lustful agitation. Jealousy is unwarranted. It is the birthplace of dysfunctional delusion; the root of hapless paranoia. The human mind easily surrenders to maddening oppression. Obstinate intolerance toils with the frailty of innocence and insensibility. A person is blessed with a myriad of chances and opportunities. A chance to live, a chance to love, a chance to learn, and a chance to grow. But when push comes to shove, oftentimes there’s little we can rummage through; chances are left tainted and severed, and hopes grow unwarranted and shattered. We are fragile little things. When we give up, we break. And when we lose, we fall.
To grow a tiny little seedling, it needs to be nurtured and shown affection. To grow an innocent human being, it needs to be loved and shown undivided attention. When we care, it shows. It materializes as words of driven thought-as actions of wholly profound meaning. People who grow dissatisfied and tainted with hatred are people who need guidance and love; an atmosphere that reverberates the echoes of paradise and glory; an area isolated from fear, a place sequestered from sorrow. Dreams come true, and nothing is impossible. Reality might be cruel, but optimism is endless. We fall from grace and deliciate in vainglory-traits unmistakable of derivative human nature yet never inescapable. Happy endings are real, nightmares are short. Life is a bittersweet fantasy-we have our ups, and we have our downs. We fail and we succeed. We fall but strive to stand up. The important thing is to try, and to never stop trying.
Courtney from Study Moose
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