Conference in Research and Practice in Information Technology - Style Guide

 

Woman as a Wonder as a Monster:

on Mathilde The Woman Who Loses A Sex War

 

Femme merveille ou femme monster:

sur Mathilde, la femme qui perd une guerre de sexe Sommaire

 

LIU Hui-qing[1]

 

 

Abstract:  In Stendhals The Red and the Black, the second leading female character Mathilde appears a quite monstrous young woman yet with fascination. She is neither mystery nor enigma but simply of a psychological sex a man+woman woman in my concept, a dilemma typical of Her as Other as an Object meanwhile so self-consciously struggling for subjectivity, for transcendence. Noble, proud, passionate, a little hysteric, obsessed with fantasy. There buried, repressed deep, and, hidden skilfully in her is the 120% of masculinity in her 120% femininity. She takes efforts to behave like a woman, yet she seeks to realize her transcendence in the man she loves. Though the man, Julien, shares with her the same wild imagination and ambition, though they both are addicted to dream of heroism, he finally comes to the point of not loving her any more, for he gets tired of heroism. Mathilde loses in the war, for she fights, but fights in order to realize her heroism in love, in her lover, a man.

Key words:  psychological sex; sex war; French Feminism; transcendence; rival

 

Rsum:  Dans Le Rouge et le Noir de Stendhal, le deuxime personnage fminin Mathilde semble plutôt une "monstrueuse" jeune femme avec fascination. Dans mon concept, elle n'est ni mystre ni nigme, mais simplement d'un sexe psychologique "homme + femme femme", un dilemme typique dElle et dAutre comme un Objet, et en mme temps elle lutte avec une auto-conscience pour la subjectivit et la transcendance. Noble, fire, passionne, un peu hystrique, obsde par la fantaisie. Il y est enterre, refloule profondment et " dissimule habilement " en elle une "120% de masculinit dans sa 120% de fminit". Elle prend des efforts pour se comporter comme une femme, mais elle cherche raliser sa transcendance l'homme qu'elle aime. Bien que cet homme, Julien, partage avec elle la mme imagination sauvage et l'ambition, et quils soient adonns au rve de l'hroïsme, il finit enfin par ne plus laimer, car il se fatigue de l'hroïsme. Mathilde perd la guerre. Elle se bat, mais elle se bat pour raliser son l'hroïsme dans l'amour, chez son amant, un homme.

Mots-Cls: sexe psychologique; la guerre de sexe; le fminisme français; transcendence; rival

 

Their first encounter was one of their gazes: Julien thought that he had never seen such beautiful eyes, signaling great emotional coldness[2], of watchful boredom that none the less remains mindful of the duty to appear imposing; they glitter. Mathilde saw as well that Julien had beautiful eyes, and nervousness made them shine, now hesitantly, now radiantly when he had given a good answer. This is prophetic of fatality of the love between Julien and Mathilde, and so much in contrast with Juliens first meeting Mme de Renal: she saw his pale face with signs of recent tears, so fair a complexion; they were standing very close together, while Julien found her with such a dazzling complexion. At that moment the reader has the first discreet hint of the skin-to-skin closeness Julien and Mme de Renal will attain,[3] the gentle eyes they saw in each other later witness their passionate, genuine, far more innocent love. Stendhal himself claims that Mme de Renal represents natural love, true love, love of the heart, while Mathilde de la Mole represents love of the head[4]. But its not so simple at all as to the relationship between Julien and this fabulous Mathilde.

 

1.  Lovers

 

Mathilde, the marquiss daughter, an aristocratic girl of nineteen, is herself quite extraordinary: beautiful, witty, spoiled, wildly imaginative; her pride knows no bounds; so arrogant that she gets bored with her own position and circle, so arrogant that if he is only a common sort of person, her window will be right hermetically shut. Now she finds the newly arrived Julien, her fathers secretary only, son of a carpenter from Verrieres, yet with fresh ideas, unquestionable superiority in Horace; he, later, when learning the art of hypocrisy of Paris high society, turning into a dandy, behaves with exemplary coldness towards her. Mathilde could not but recognize that hes a wise man, like a philosopher. She finally discovers that Sorel is quite out of ordinary. And at that time shes proclaiming: I want to see a real man! Shes hunting for her Hero.

As Stendhal says, its this young girls misfortune to own a sharper intellect than the gentlemen in the salons. Her Romantic self is obsessed forever with a heroic dream, a dream in which her lover, her master and God, her hero comes to her, to conquer her, and dominate her. So she wonders: could Julien be a Danton? And she sees Julien has something of the look her father, the Marquis de la Mole adopts when he does such a good imitation of Napoleon. And Julien, the monster of ambition, is himself a hidden Napoleon! He contains at the bottom of his character something frightening, which leaves the Marquis de la Mole wondering; also quite baffled by the enigmas of Juliens character, M. de la Mole at least arrives to the conclusion: he can not stand contempthe cannot stand contempt at any price.

To Julien, ambition is the motor of his rise.,[5] and it is the source of abundance where his pride and energy derive. Energy, the heroic essence, is clearly prized in the novels value system, especially valued by Mthilde, for she lives in Paris without vitality, in the bloodless nineteenth century, in such contrast with the remote history where she takes her model. Julien has a black ambition and this ambition energizes him, makes him prey to moments of enthusiasm. Yet in eyes of Mthilde, he represents power: Julien appears different, sometimes a little strangely cruel towards Mathilde, and all the way naturally or otherwise artificially indifferent, cold, which conforms to what Mathilde is seeking in a real man with superiority. Especially a real man who appears in the course of such heroic act as if a religious cult in her ideal. Her ancestor, Boniface de la Mole, had had the honor of having his head cut off, in retribution for loving a queen; she is enamored of the grandeur of this bloody cult on a guillotine, the cult of the religion of love. She takes Juliens shooting Mme de Renal as a noble act of revenge, and sees a lofty heart beating inside his uncommon chest. She sees the same grandeur of Julien when he shows himself capable of an equally distinguished destiny.[6] Her noble ancestor, Boniface de la Mole, now seems to her to have been resurrected in this young peasant boy, only more heroic. So she finally gets a man at hand worthy of being made her God; she will enthrone him as supreme value and reality: she will humble herself to nothingness before him. Love becomes for her a religion.[7]

In fact, though she is so proud a monster in terms of Julien, for shes a woman, she is even moved for being ignored as Other: Juliens indifference and scorn gets her no power to forget him though shes shocked for meaning nothing to this young man. This unpredictable Mathilde, as in Beauvoirs theory, she is just a woman whos looking for a man who represents male superiority. A man who deserves to dominate her, a hero. But not a single gentleman of high rank in her fathers drawing room can meet this expectation of her. When Julien seizes a sword from the wall in a fury to kill her, Mathilde, happy at such novel sensation, which right conforms to her wild fantasy of an ancient hero, watches in amazement, much delighted that shes on the verge of being killed by her lover, and that moment her mind is being taken right back into the most heroic moments in the century of Charles IX and Henry III.

Thanks to her mad imagination and her aspiration for a real man, which is typical of a woman, and her idiosyncrasy, shed love to relapse into some form of weakness for him; she wonders: this time round he would indeed believe himself my lord and master. She seems in desperate desire for a man to manipulate her: Julien accuses her of letting a so-called Mr. De Luz take a flower from her hand, which is an invented story, and shes sure of its ridiculousness, yet she apologizes for it, hardly with reluctance. She likes to be his slave. And, if the lover is not tyrannical enough, she may even love to educate him to be. The narrator tells that she was actually about to make him her lover, perhaps even her lord and master. Indeed, he can be made one: when Julien confirms Mathildes love with her letter in his hand, hes intoxicated with a feeling of his own power. He was a God. He did feel like that.

 

2.  Partners

 

Their love story is rather bookish affair which begins appropriately in the library. Both Julien and Mathilde are the two great readers in The Red and the Black. He is one literary creation whose folly or perversity must be blamed on an abuse of literacy; his father damns this book worm; addiction to reading has turned his brain or corrupted his morals[8], spoiled his accurate comprehension of the world and justification of himself. Reading fascinates him with a far-away world of imagination, thus his deepest impulse is to follow a private dream[9], one of ambition, and he does wallow in the world of imagination and ambition. As for Mathilde, this arrogant noble young girl has been in hot imaginary pursuit of love, and with Julien, her love has ripened in a library, nourished on the chronicles of Brantome and Aubigne and the novels of Rousseau and Prevost[10]. They come to love, in a way in accordance to their fancy.

They both are dreamers. Julien and Mathilde, wandering in their dreamlands, are entirely preoccupied with what has been invented by their fantasy, and so proud of this. Only one can understand the other in case that they are two estrangers in the nineteenth-century society, far beyond their own realization. Theres only spontaneous affinity: it is only Julien who recognizes Mathildes boredom with her life. He sees this watchful boredom in her most beautiful eyes at the first sight of this girl; he tells Father Pirard that he sees Mlle de la Mole herself yawning when dinning with Her Ladyship. And it is Mathilde who overhears this who sighs: Theres a man who wasnt born on his knees! Julien finds nothing at all to say to Parisian dolls but Mlle de la Mole was an exception. He finds her learned and even sound in ideas. Juliens qualities are also recognized by Mathilde. Mathilde, who cannot find one the same resenting towards life as she herself, so until she finds the uncommon trait in Julien, she dwells in her private world of reading in exploit of her sixteenth-century ancestors, of the past heroism. She is, as well as Julien, desperately bored with and out of place in the society. [T]hey are bound to one another in the innermost depths of being exactly.[11]

Julien and Mathilde both are committing self-invention, each according to their own borrowed model. Mathildes was in the remote past, the queen of Navarre, Marguerite, the mistress of one of her ancestors, while Juliens his Napoleon. They are two of a piece. So they are in fact comrades, partners in imaginary struggle for fascination. They hence, initially, have their secret sympathy[12]. Mathidles bookishness projects herself and Julien into heroic models, appropriating the grandeur and audacity of another age. For the sake of her pride taken in her lineage, the favorite roles are traced out in the family chronicles: the love of Marguerite de Valois for the young La Mole. And for Mathilde, for her enthusiastic heroic dream, she needs to locate obstacles to surpass: Juliens lack of birth becomes a desirable barrier.[13] Her heroic dream also conforms to the Revolution, so she even casts Julien as Danton and herself as Mme Roland.

Juliens passion for heroism began from his earliest youth: he has been overwhelmed with the exciting ideas of the Revolution and of Rousseau, for the grandeur of the Napoleonic period. His low birth can do far from endowing him with great honors, so he has felt nothing but loathing and scorn for the piddling hypocrisy and the petty lying corruption of the classes in power after Napoleons fall[14]. He is of too much vigorous imagination and ambition of being a hero conquering ennui of the world, ambition of command of power, he will never be satisfied with a mediocre life within the bourgeoisie, as his friend Fouque proposes to him. The same is true of Mathidel: when she was only twelve, she revealed her fascination with Queen Marguerite, who requested the head of her lover, at midnight went off to bury it herself at the foot of Montmartre.

Julien is of such Machiavellianism that he devotes himself to hypocrisy, simply because he has seen that it is the ruling art of the high society and it imposes on credulous people by concealing all the worst weaknesses behind its smiling mask[15]. Mathilde resorts to a little hypocrisy as well: when with Julien she utters ideas quite different from what she gives in the salons. But in no sense are they hypocrites. Julien, as a man, he is of great impulse and sensitivity: with both he becomes extremely intelligent to the dangers and expenses of being frank and honest in social life. So he works his will up to be diplomatic and skilled, he makes attempts to repress all his impulses of loyalty, to throttle all the bold, wild impulses of youth which spring up so easily within him each time he forgets to stand guard over himself.[16] This kind of art to Mathilde is just the art of every woman, the art of trying to remain feminine, to be lovable.

For Julien and Mathilde are both estrangers, or outsiders, in the society of their time, they hate the muddle and lack of vitality of this society[17], it is their duty to be singular, to keep themselves away from the people. In their sense singular is, for them the two Romantic individualists, it is the outward sign of an indispensable uniqueness, an unsocialised independence.[18] So they both get themselves great tasks of performing duties. Juliens self-fulfilling duties are: to grasp Mme. de Renals hand, to mount a ladder to Mathildes window by moonlight, and when he has achieved that, he is satisfied with himself that he had done his duty, and a heroic one. Also the iron hand of duty serves him well during his combat with Mathilde.[19] He maintains his inauthentic self when facing her and all the way sees it his solemn duty. Mathilde herself is prone to just as chimerical and imperious a sense of duty as Julien. Even her eyes keep mindful of the duty to appear imposing.

And they both get their duty well performed to satisfy their heroic dream, something, to them, of a religion. They make it sacred. Juliens devotion to Napoleon bears all the marks of a private cult, such that it may be his substitute for religion, a secret cult.[20] Mathides fantasy of her ardent and romantic temperament grants her a kind of heroism of love. Love for woman is originally holy enterprise, and Mathilde gets it even more highly up-lifted. Some of the parallels between fantasy and reality in her story with Julien are of course arranged by Mathilde herself: she sends Julien to Villequier, the one estate which the marquis de la Mole has inherited from Boniface and she buries her lovers head.[21] She has her belief in providence. She does make the burial of her lovers head a cult: twenty priests celebrate a Mass on the summit of one of the highest mountains in the Jura in the little grotto magnificently lit by candles, while Mathilde appears in the midst of all the mountains inhabitants at the strikingly strange ceremony, wearing long mourning attire, having several thousand five-franc coins flung to the crowd, and she buries the head with her own hands.

It is broadly viewed that Mathilde represents inauthenticity, in contrast to Mme de Renal, who is always authentically herself,[22] who perpetually represents instead naturalness, innocent of her charm, naïve in love, sin, who only follows her heart, gives herself up to her passion intuitively, who contrasts to Mathilde, and lets her appear so histrionic[23]in eyes of Julien. And the Julien who used to play hypocrisy who has been skillful at the art of calculation now calls Mathilde mad woman. But isnt he who owns the same Romantic self as Mathidles all the time? His fantasy of heroism follows the route of heroic grandeur, sublimity in history, while Mathilde is performing the grandeur and beauty of love. Her self-formation of aesthetics can be called poetically true. Are women, exactly excluded from practicing an aesthetic of self, the aesthetics of existence?[24] And never could their esteem of self prevail their passionate emotions?

Julien and Mathilde, since they are estrangers, and the estrangers have no recognized mode of feeling, they of course turn to books and imagination for a model. They are essentially individuals at odds with society, so they are left alone to work out their destiny in chaotic society, and they are on the support of their own immense force of character and their own genius, and that genius is absolute and inexplicable.[25] Rather tragically, though they are allies against society and are united by a bond which goes far deeper than their antipathy,[26] though Mathilde acts as the partner of Juliens struggle to be singular in the society, she finally loses his understanding, sympathy, and appreciation, loses him as comrade as lover.

 

3.  Enemies

 

For Julien, his love affair first with Mme de Renal then with Mathilde is at least in the beginnings a class war. It is in one evening, when Julien happens to touch Mme de Renals hand in the dark, that hand withdraws, that Julien decides that the hand should not withdraw again when he touches it the next time, lest he suffer a feeling of inferiority. The next morning he observes Mme de Renal with a strange look as if she were an enemy he [is] going to have to fight. The first night of love leaves him feel like a soldier. He loves Mathilde as much for reasons of class hatred as for genuine tenderness[27]

And it has been that the love is rather a combat, a race of their pride. The inconstant Mathilde first yields to this mere secretary of her fathers, then immediately rebels, resents the power she has let him obtain over her, then once again plunges into his arms, then suspects this mans worthiness. Later again she is so blessed in the sensation of becoming Juliens slave on seeing his amazingly heroic impulse to kill her with a sword seized from the wall, then she resents him again, and finally, through Juliens strategy of arousing her jealousy, of demonstrating an inauthentic indifference and pride towards her, she makes a decisive surrender on her kneels. But nobody gets so optimistic as to believe this is the final victory of poor Julien.

Pride is the ruling passion of Mathilde, and Julien can get power over her only by affecting an even icier counter-pride and indifference.[28] For Mathilde, from high class, of social superiority, values her aristocratic birth to such an extent, she, Mathilde de la Mole, loves Julien, or rather, must be made to love him, artificially and unnaturally. She is a mistress who must be perused, won, lost, recaptured, disputeda tempting and perilous bit of quicksilver, lawless.[29] And Mathilde is perhaps too preoccupied with the idea of love and with conforming to her literary and historical models for us to grand great depth to her emotions.[30] Mme de Renal used to find reasons for doing what her heart dictates: this girl from high society only lets her heart be moved when she has proved to herself with sound reasons that it ought to be moved.

It is far from accurate to say that Julien and Mathilde are practically never both in the same mood in the same day and this is the source of their clash, but it is exactly correct to say that their love, so painful for Julien especially, is a psychological obstacle race in which they take it in turns to be pursuer and pursued, executioner and victim.[31] Mathilde will despise the young peasant Julien, the son of a carpenter from Verrieres, whenever she suspects he owns maybe merely exterior superiority; and shell be cruel if he commits some weakness, for example, of asking her, in the most tender and heartfelt of tones: So, you dons love me anymore? Her cruel answer could be: Im appalled at having given myself to the first man who came along. The art of warfare of this woman warrior is: if the male counterpart shows any hint of fragility, which always is categorized as kind of femininity, she will humiliate and destruct any pride left in him. But she wept, with rage, for she feels herself insulted by loving and having been loved by such an inferior weak man.

So even sometimes Julien, weak and prone to collapse, on the verge of falling at her feet, destroyed by love and misery, on the verge of crying: Mercy! he can do exactly nothing but stay indifferent, for to the sensitive and alert Mathilde, who keeps ruthlessly on watch of his shameful hidden softness, his sufferings will be intense enjoyment for her. She is to torture a man falling prey to his weakness. He, since once was different, singular, is energy, power in eyes of Mathilde, he must forever be. Thus this attraction-and-repulsion is not as much a theatrical episode as the confliction formula in this sex war. Stendhals interpretation of this fundamental antipathy is: it is inspired by a desire to dominate the opposite sex. But Mathilde does love to be dominated. Her extravagant nature of a woman enjoys savage delight in her experience in humiliating Juliens pride, because shes to beat him always at the vulnerable spot.[32]

Julien is a man who alters between choices of betraying his soul through hardness and betraying his spirit through softness,[33] he frequently falls prey to his weakness, especially with his wild imaginations always darting to extremes. There are times when his [i]magination raises himto an unwarranted pitch of optimism, but it may also plunge him into equally unfounded despair, as when, thinking Mathildes reaction against him to be due to his unworthiness, he lapses into a paroxysm of self-loathing.[34] So even he is guarding himself from making his weakness exposed to Mathilde, as he felt once free to do when in face of Mme de Renal, Mathilde is sensitive to that. Because she who aspires for male superiority, for a hero, she hates to sense any trace of this. She cautiously watches over for it, all the time ready to give ruthless destructive humiliation.

 

 4.  A Man in a Woman

 

In fact Mathilde herself is such a wonder: the man she loves sees her constantly as a queen; she has a mind of her own; she has enough for all [her family] put together, and she rules them all. And one of the gentlemen asks: who can be worthy of this sublime Mathilde? Yet shes monster! First and foremost, for women are supposed to rely on emotions far more than on reason, women should be naïve, innocent, pure; the cultivated and intelligent women are monsters[35]. So fatally that [h]er intelligence is malign.[36] Just as the Chinese old saying goes:Ů޲űǵ: womans owning no intellect is her virtue. Thus shes trapped in a womans bodythat society victimized [her] by giving her nothing to do.[37] To be fair, as for her strangeness, it is never a matter of monster, but of a character monstrously alive, much more alive than those of flesh and bone that we meet every day and whose hand we shake,[38] because shes so empowered with her knowledge, imagination, her intelligence, with extreme passion all these traits endow her.

One is a text to the other. But neither of them can read the other as a text effectively. Especially Mathilde is to Julien a sphinx: a woman-faced lion. Julien succeeds with Mme de Renal because of his tearful timidity, and with Mathilde, his indifference,[39]his inauthentic coldness. Mme de Renalgave him something to admire and not to fear,[40] but Mathide is such a woman to be admired, to be feared. Mathilde is first typical of a woman: shes unpredictable, changeable, whimsical, forever of her feminine inconsistency: she may be Evil at one moment, only to be good at the next.[41] Also, Mathilde is a secret radical with most perverse and fascinating traits, with her passionate, not to say morbid, interest in decapitation[42]. Shes too severely obsessed with the story of her ancestor having his head cut off for loving a queen, she believes thats what great love should just be, and shed like one like that. As well, for her, the love of head means not only love of her lovers head, but she loves the head of her own: Julien sees shes much learned, intoxicated with her learning; and she is a woman of such reason, even as to issue of love: if she feels she loves Julien, it is that she ha[s] decided that she [i]s in love; shes most determined, headstrong, intensely willed. Sometimes Mathilde desires and deserves to be a poet of sublimity[43], yet sublimity is far foreign to femininity. Julien decides this girl would never be a woman in his eyes on first seeing her, perhaps mainly for the sake of the great emotional coldness in her eyes. And he thinks her hard, haughty, and, almost masculine. He tells Mathilde: heaven owed it to the glory of your race to have you born a man.

Although born as a woman, Mathilde tends to signal transcendence from the very beginning: Julien finds her eyes with an expressionmindful of the duty to appear imposing. She knows well in such civilization as hers, it is man originally represented transcendence, yet she desires a struggle for recognition[44]as well. Mathilde is so extraordinary as to claim: I shant go through life unnoticed. She owns great passion for life and her passionate desire to be makes it unsatisfactory to live without doing anything. Shell never be satisfied with remaining in immanence. Transcendence means to do, to act. Anyway, the fundamental human project is surpassing(transcendence), not preservation(immanence)[45];

She has strong willpower. She dare do anything shed like. The ladder that Mathilde de la Mole sets against her window is in tangible form, her proud imprudence, her taste for the extraordinary, her provocative courage.[46] Stendhal creates her to ensure that courage is the foremost quality in her character. So willful a young girl seems not one of enough femininity; shes an active soul, she dreads ennui more than death,[47] she struggles for transcendence. In her mind, personal distinction was all the fashion. What a colorless existence I shall lead with a person like Cruisenois! She fears so much to live without style. As in her position and society she has nowhere to release her great passion, she resorts to the redemptive enterprise of love. It is when she decides shes in love with Julien, she stops feeling bored. And, every day she congratulates herself on her decision to indulge in a grand passion.

Stendhal cites from Merimee: I admire her beauty, but I live in fear of her mind. This is what is in the mind of Julien, for he wins over her only when keeping her at arms length. He cannot own her in sense of authenticity. Having played Prince Korasovs trick successfully and won Mathilde back, Julien compared himself to a general who has half won a great battle, and he concludes the enemy will only obey me so far as I frighten her; only then, will Mathildes inner feminine virtue return to her, will she turn back into a woman, will Julien resumes all the dignity befitting a man. Throughout this sex warfare Julien seems to be living at close quarters with a tiger, so he must have his pistol loaded on his table. He finally, quite naturally, gets tried of that.

 

5.  Fatality

 

She can be called the opposition between masculine clitoral activity and feminine vaginal passivity.[48]Shes unique that Stendhal could depict her tangible soul as the line of the cliffs as seen when approaching Arbois.[49] There is, all in all, a man in this mythical Mathilde. Its not that Stendhal has projected himself into her, but that he regards her as being, like man, a transcendent,[50] for Stendhal is a man who lives among women of flesh and blood[51]; he understands woman as a human being.[52] In Judith Butlers logic, [i]f it is possible to speak of a man with a masculine attribute and to understand that attribute as a happy but accidental feature of that man, then it is also possible to speak of a man with a feminine attributeas we see femininity as well as masculinity in Julienthe human beings gender is performative.[53]Gender means not free sets of floating human psychological attributes, it is certain patterns of union of them. According to different combination of personality attributes, the human being should be divided into seven categories(not sexes, not genders): man(purely 100% masculinity), woman(purely 100% femininity), woman man, man woman, man+woman man, man+woman woman, and, middle-sex, or non-sexcertainly we sometimes meet somebody not sexily appealing at all to neither sex. So, Mathilde belongs to the group of man+woman woman, with 100% masculinity in among her 100% femininity, with a psychological sex mixed both masculinity and femininity in her biological female sex. But this is, unfortunately, just the formula of female fatality to her as a woman, for being like that she becomes a dilemma typical of Her as Other as an Object meanwhile so self-consciously struggling for subjectivity, for transcendence. Mathilde loses in the war, for she fights, but as a woman, she fights to seek to realize her dream of transcendence, dream of her own heroism in love, in her lover, a man.

Julien first makes himself tell Mathilde openly what hes thinking when he is tired of despising himself; and at the end of the story he shuts his doors to her for, to tell the truth, he was getting tired of heroics. His ambition has been used up, his strength which used to defeat and control Mathilde is exhausted. His heroic dream, his dream of transcendence now comes to the end. He hates to see Mathildes being active, energized as usual, or even more vital, for he has got fed up with his own. He calls her a mad woman. He no more believes in heroism. His formerly forever so intensely extended personality cannot go beyond the point at this moment, it can no longer carry on[54], there seems nothing left for it in life. His efforts at role playing had ended up draining all strength from this soul.[55]

Julien used to let Mathidel shape his self, for he would act according to her tastes, but now Julien decides to shape his own destiny. Or, we would rather admit that he cannot face the prospect of life together with Mathilde, for he never succeeds with her with his authentic self, he cannot be himself, he thus has never really achieved a victory. Now he turns to the more restful figure of Mme de Renal. She is of course the mother-image and the prison itself serves as a symbol of the womb to which he wishes to return. Julien has no petty pride when in the presence of Mme de Renal, and he could recount all his moments of weakness when facing death to her. She showed him al her kindness and charm. So, in fact, it is, deliberately, he chooses to finish himself rather than let his rival do it: he takes good care that Mathildes efforts to save him fail. He has withdrawn from the battlefield where he is doomed to lose yet his enemy is still there showing off her energy! In a sense Julien does not give up at all, he follows a different route: here Juliens psychology of heroism is to stick to his ideals, to go heroically to his death.[56]

He once genuinely loved Mathilde: he cursed her character, yet he loved her infinitely more for it; he always felt hes holding a queen in his arms. She has this appalling character! Thus our hero Julien, comes finally to the point of wit that the only genuine happiness, must be attained in complete isolation from the world, at the door of death.[57] He willingly loses in the war of ambition, and of rivalry. Mathilde loses the war as well, for she fights for love, yet Julien deserts her morally. Women should preserve as laboriously as they could endeavor their authenticity, their naturalness, their naivety, their generosity of love and offer, their instinct, as Mme de Renal. Never could womans calculation be liked by man. He senses Mathildes struggle for transcendence so powerful as if of a real man, he thus sees as if a devil in an angel, or the serpent in the Eve. She finally got only his head. But not love.  

What finally raises Mme de Renal above Mathilde is not the Oedipal satisfactions of maternal love she affords, but rather her aptitude for solitude and privacy. She and Julien are deeply joined in this predilection Elective affinities,[58]when Julien loves to withdraw from his all battling spirits. As Derrida reveals, all great noise causes one to place happiness in the calm and in the distance; the enchantment and the most powerful effect of womanisan effect at a distance.[59] The secret is that womans oppressed ambition in her immanence seeks to release in a man, but a mans defeated transcendence seeks into the quietness of a woman for consolation. It is proved that women are denied their individuality, and when the difference of sex is made dominant, [p]ersonal distinction is silenced.[60] So, as far as Mathilde is concerned, this love story is the more passionate and extremely tragic love intrigue. Because shes a woman, and for woman, to be feminine is to appear weak, futile, docile,[61] so her fault lies in the fact that she does something, and she feels no guilt for it.

Every time you discuss Stendhal, you are left with the impression that you have said nothing at all, that he has eluded you, and that everything remains to be said.[62] Mathilde loses the sex war, only because she is a woman. The fate is a riddle without solution. This is, I guess, why Stendhal regretted Mathilde for years, but it was a regret that perfumed his life without destroying it. Beauvoir utters the very truth of this sex war happening every day: woman, in assuming her role as the inessential, accepting a total dependence, creates a hell for herself.[63]

 

References

Adams, Robert M. (trans & ed).(1969). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company.

Adams, Robert M..(1959) Stendhal: Notes on a Novelist. London: The Merlin Press.

Alter, Robert (in collaboration with Carol Cosman) (1979). Stendhal: A Biography, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Beauvoir, Simone de. (1997). The Second Sex (H. M. Parshley, ed. & trans.). London: Vintage.

Bleier, Ruth.(1984). Science and Gender: A Critique of Biology and Its Theories on Women. New York.

Bloom, Harold. (1994). The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. London: Macmillan.

Braidotti, Rosi.(1994). Nomadic Subjects: Embodiment and Sexual Difference in Contemporary Feminist Theory. New York.

Brennan, Teresa (ed.). (1989). Between Feminism and Psychoanalysis. London/New York.

Brombret, Victor (ed). (1962). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays, Englewood Cliffs. N.J.: Prentic-Hall.

Butler, Judith. (1993). Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York and London.

Butler, Judith. (1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York.

Conboy, Katie, & Medina, Nadia, & Stanbury, Sarah (ed.). (1997). Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory. New York.

Diprose, Rosalyn. (1994). The Bodies of Women: Ethics, Embodiment and Sexual Difference. London and New York: Routledge.

Derrida, Jacques. (1978). Spurs. Trans. London: Barbara Harlow; Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Dreyfus, Hubert L. & Rabinow, Paul. (1982). Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics. Brighton.

Eisenstein, Zillah R.. (1988). The Female Body and The Law. London: University of California Press,.

Foucault, Michel. (1978, 1990). The History of Sexuality, Volume 1. New York.

Foucault, Michel. (1977). Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the prison. New York.

Freud, Sigmund. (1977, 1985). On Sexuality: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Other Works, (James Strachey, Trans.). Harmondsworth.

Haraway, Donna J..(1991). Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature. London/New York.

Haig, Stirling. (1989). Stendhal: The Red and the Black. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge.

Hofkosh, Sonia. (1998). Sexual Politics and the Romantic Author.  Cambridge.

Irigaray, Luce. (1985). This Sex Which is not One. (Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burke,Trans.).  Ithaca/New York: Cornell University Press.

Kristeva, Julia. (2000). The Sense and Nonsense of Revolt: The Powers and Limits of Psychoanalysis. New York.

Lundgren-Gothlin, Eva. (1996). Sex and Existence: Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex. Trans. London: Linda Schenck.

Pearson, Roger. (1988). Stendhals Vision: A Novelist and His Reader. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Rubin, Gayle. (1975). The Traffic in Women: Notes on the Political Economy of Sex. Toward an Anthropology of Women. (Rayna Reiter, ed.). New York/London.

Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll. (1985). Disorderly Conduct: Visions of Gender in Victorian America. New York/Oxfrod.

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty. (1982). Displacement and the Discourse of Woman.  Displacement, Derrida and After (Mark Krupnick, ed.). Indiana U. P.

 

Editor: John Healy



[1] female, got an MA in Comparative Literature, at University College London, in 2004. Now she works as an English lecturer with the English Faculty of College of  Humanities and Development, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China. She mainly researches on comparative literature, and the second language learning strategies. Two of her poetry books, two novels as well as other academic papers have been published during the recent years. She also helped a lot in having several books on Chinese villagers self-goverance published as a vice chief editor.

* Received 10 July 2009;  accepted 2  August 2009

[2] All the quotations hereafter of the primary text are from Stendhal, The Red and the Black, edited and translated by Catherine Slater, published by Oxford University Press, in 1991.

[3] Alter, Robert (in collaboration with Carol Cosman). Stendhal: A Biography, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1979. p.193.

[4] Adams, Robert M.. (1959). Stendhal: Notes on a Novelist, London: The Merlin Press, p.42.

[5] Haig, Stirling, (1989). Stendhal: The Red and the Black. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge, p.56.

[6] Adams, Robert M.. (1959). Stendhal: Notes on a Novelist, London: The Merlin Press, p.42.

[7] Beauvoir, Simone de.(1997). The Second Sex (ed. & trans. H. M. Parshley). London: Vintage, p.653.

[8] F.W.J. Hemmings, (1969). The Dreamer, pp.521-38. (Adams, Robert M. Trans & ed), Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.521.

[9] Adams, Robert M..(1959). Stendhal: Notes on a Novelist. London: The Merlin Press, p.222.

[10] Martin Turnell. (1962). Le Rouge et le noir,  pp.15-33. (Brombret, Victor, ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentic-Hall, 1962. p.23.

[11] Martin Turnell.(1962). Le Rouge et le noir, pp.15-33. (Brombret, Victor, ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentic-Hall, p.31.

[12] F.W.J. Hemmings. (1969). The Dreamer. (Adams, Robert M. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.525.

[13] Haig, Stirling, (1989). Stendhal: The Red and the Black. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge, p.80.

[14] Erich Auerbach. (1969). In The Hotel de la Mole, pp.435-46. (Adams, Robert M. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.437.

[15] Henri Martineau.(1969). The Ending of the Red and Black, pp.446-53. (Adams, Robert M. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.448.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Martin Turnell. (1962). Le Rouge et le noir,  pp.15-33.  (Brombret, Victor. ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays, Englewood Cliffs. N.J.: Prentic-Hall, p.19.

[18] Haig, Stirling, (1989). Stendhal: The Red and the Black. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge, p.67.

[19] Ibid. p.63.

[20] F.W.J. Hemmings, The Dreamer, pp.521-38, in Adams, Robert M. (trans & ed), Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1969. p.523.

[21] Pearson, Roger, Stendhals Vision: A Novelist and His Reader, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988. p.129.

[22] F.W.J. Hemmings, The Dreamer, pp.521-38, in Adams, Robert M. (trans & ed), Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism, New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1969. p.525.

[23] Alter, Robert (in collaboration with Carol Cosman), Stendhal: A Biography, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1979. p.193.

[24] Diprose, Rosalyn, The Bodies of Women: Ethics, Embodiment and Sexual Difference, London and New York, Routledge, 1994. pp.32-34.

[25] Martin Turnell, Le Rouge et le noir, pp.15-33, in Brombret, Victor (ed), Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentic-Hall, 1962. p.19.

[26] Ibid. p.25.

[27] Henri Martineau. (1969). The Ending of the Red and Black, pp.446-53. ( Adams, Robert M. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company,p.450.

[28] Adams, Robert M..(1959). Stendhal: Notes on a Novelist. London: The Merlin Press, p.41.

[29] Ibid. p.40.

[30] Haig, Stirling, (1989). Stendhal: The Red and the Black. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge, p.79.

[31] Martin Turnell. (1962). Le Rouge et le noir, pp.15-33. ( Brombret, Victor, ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentic-Hall, p.31.

[32] Martin Turnell. (1962). Le Rouge et le noir, pp.15-33. (Brombret, Victor, ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays, Englewood Cliffs. N.J.: Prentic-Hall, p.25. My italics.

[33] F.W.J. Hemmings. (1969). The Dreamer, pp.521-38. (Adams, Robert M.. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.538.

[34] Ibid, p.527.

[35] Beauvoir, Simone de. (1997). The Second Sex (H. M. Parshley,  ed. & trans.). London: Vintage, p.269.

[36] Bloom, Harold. (1994). The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages. London: Macmillan, p.351.

[37] Ibid.

[38] G. Tomasi di Lampedusa. (1969). Notes on Stendhal: Red and Black. pp.5549-56. (Robert M., Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticis. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.555.

[39] Pearson, Roger.(1988). Stendhals Vision: A Novelist and His Reader. Oxford: Clarendon Press, p.128.

[40] Alain. (1969). Love in Stendhal: Love in Voltaire, pp.556-8. ( Adams, Robert M.. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.557.

[41] Lundgren-Gothlin, Eva. (1996). Sex and Existence: Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex. (Linda Schenck. Trans.). London, p.176.

[42] Adams, Robert M..(1959). Stendhal: Notes on a Novelist. London: The Merlin Press, p.42.

[43] Alain. (1969). Love in Stendhal: Love in Voltaire, pp.556-8. (Adams, Robert M., Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.557.

[44]Lundgren-Gothlin, Eva. (1996). Sex and Existence: Simone de Beauvoirs The Second Sex. (Linda Schenck, Trans.)  London, p.234.

[45] Ibid. p.234.

[46] Beauvoir, Simone de. (1997). The Second Sex (H. M. Parshley, ed. & trans.). London: Vintage, P.272.

[47] Ibid. pp.271-2.

[48] Irigaray, Luce. (1985). This Sex Which is not One. (Catherine Porter and Carolyn Burk, Trans.). Ithaca/New York, Cornell University Press, p.248.

[49] Beauvoir, Simone de,(1997). The Second Sex (H. M. Parshley, ed. & trans ). London: Vintage, p.268.

[50] Ibid. pp.277-9.

[51] Ibid. p.268.

[52] Ibid. p.278.

[53] Butler, Judith,(1990). Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York, pp.24-5.

[54] Martin Turnell. (1962). Le Rouge et le noir, pp.15-33. (Brombret, Victor, ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays, Englewood Cliffs. N.J.: Prentic-Hall, p.32.

[55] Alter, Robert (in collaboration with Carol Cosman). Stendhal: A Biography. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1979. p.202.

[56] Martin Turnell. (1962). Le Rouge et le noir, pp.15-33.  (Brombret, Victor, ed). Stenhal: A Collection of Critical Essays, Englewood Cliffs. N.J.: Prentic-Hall, p.32.

[57] Alter, Robert (in collaboration with Carol Cosman). (1979). Stendhal: A Biograph., London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, p.202.

[58] Haig, Stirling,(1989). Stendhal: The Red and the Black. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge, p.83

[59] Derrida, Jacques. (1978). Spurs, (Barbara Harlow, Trans). London/Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp.45-47.

[60] Eisenstein, Zillah R., (1988). The Female Body and The Law. London: University of California Press, p.90.

[61] Beauvoir, Simone de. (1997). The Second Sex (H. M. Parshley, ed. & trans), London: Vintage, p.359.

[62] F.W.J. Hemmings, (1969). The Dreamer. (Adams, Robert M. Trans & ed). Red and Black: A New Translation, Backgrounds, and Sources, Criticism. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, p.538.

[63] Beauvoir, Simone de. (1997). The Second Sex (H. M. Parshley, ed. & trans.), London: Vintage, p.664.



DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fg120

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Reminder

If you have already registered in Journal A and plan to submit article(s) to Journal B, please click the CATEGORIES, or JOURNALS A-Z on the right side of the "HOME".


We only use three mailboxes as follows to deal with issues about paper acceptance, payment and submission of electronic versions of our journals to databases: caooc@hotmail.com; css@cscanada.net; css@cscanada.org

Copyright © Canadian Academy of Oriental and Occidental Culture

Address: 758, 77e AV, Laval, Quebec, H7V 4A8, Canada

Telephone: 1-514-558 6138

Http://www.cscanada.net Http://www.cscanada.org

E-mail:css@cscanada.net, css@cscanada.org