Presenter Information

Hannah R. SchultzFollow

Presentation Type

Poster - Campus Access Only

Abstract

Throughout history, novels have always been a tool for social commentary. Pierre Choderlos de Laclos with his epistolary novel of Les liaisons dangereuses dared to challenge societal and gender norms in the eighteenth century through his representation of the character of Madame de Merteuil as using seduction for personal satisfaction and adopting traditional masculine characteristics. Eighteenth century society, which upheld ‘feminine’ values of modesty and innocence, was shocked by the immorality of the characters and the unflattering portrait of women depicted by Madame de Merteuil. Similarly, Gustave Flaubert, with his novel Madame Bovary, also faced societal disapproval and was tried in court due to the perceived immorality of his novel. Emma Bovary, the main character, is an adulterous woman who also adopts masculine traits and struggles with identity in nineteenth century society. Through individual analysis and comparison, I explore the social commentary of these two novels in terms of gender norms and expectations in the societies of their time periods.

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Humanities

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Apr 15th, 3:00 PM Apr 15th, 4:00 PM

The Portrayal of Immoral Women in French Literature

Throughout history, novels have always been a tool for social commentary. Pierre Choderlos de Laclos with his epistolary novel of Les liaisons dangereuses dared to challenge societal and gender norms in the eighteenth century through his representation of the character of Madame de Merteuil as using seduction for personal satisfaction and adopting traditional masculine characteristics. Eighteenth century society, which upheld ‘feminine’ values of modesty and innocence, was shocked by the immorality of the characters and the unflattering portrait of women depicted by Madame de Merteuil. Similarly, Gustave Flaubert, with his novel Madame Bovary, also faced societal disapproval and was tried in court due to the perceived immorality of his novel. Emma Bovary, the main character, is an adulterous woman who also adopts masculine traits and struggles with identity in nineteenth century society. Through individual analysis and comparison, I explore the social commentary of these two novels in terms of gender norms and expectations in the societies of their time periods.