Illness Theme Questions

Does juliens attempted murder of mme de renal truly

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Does Julien’s attempted murder of Mme. de Renal truly reflect madness or does it reveal something more complex? In ousting Julien as a social climber to M. de la Mole, Mme. de Renal casts off Julien’s outer ‘faux-noble’ personality that allowed him to assimilate with the restored aristocrats. Underneath Julien’s outer societal projection there is a romantic idealist aligned with the values of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Byronic hero. Unable to handle exposure to society, this romantic side of Julien seeks to remove itself from society through symbolic suicide through the death of the only other character to share its romantic sensibilities – Mme de Renal. Essentially, Mme de Renal sheds the societally focused personality of Julien allowing him to regain his sanity. o For example in jail his view on Mlle de la Mole’s beauty changes from masculine, when she represented a part of the nobility that was inversely related to his romantic ideals, to “pretty indeed” (464) – without the societally focused side of Julien he’s cured of his sickness of the desire for power and social standing. Before the murder, Julien associates with M. de la Mole, his metaphorically adopted father. Julien speaks as a child who cannot face the shame of letting reducing his father’s image of him “I can’t blame M. de La Mole,” said Julien, after having finished it; “he is just and wise. What father would give his cherished daughter to such a man! Good-bye!” (Stendhal 451). “The almost feminine cast of his features and his embarrassment did not seem ridiculous to a women who was extremely shy herself…’t frightens me to enter a strange household for the first time in my life’…Julien was overcoming his fears during this long speech; he was studying Mme de Renal. Such is the effect on perfect grace, when it is natural, and especially when the person whom it adorns is totally unaware of being graceful, that Julien, something of an expert in feminine beauty, would have sworn at that moment that she was no more than twenty years old. Suddenly he had the bold notion to kiss her hand. Before long he was frightened at his boldness. A second later he told himself: “It would be cowardly of me not to carry out an action than may be useful to me and lessen the contempt this fine lad must feel for a workingman who’s just been torn away from his saw…as he spoke those words he ventured to take Mme. de Renal’s hand and raise it to his lips. She was amazed at this gesture, and on reflection, shocked” (Stendhal 38-39) o Julien presents all the signs of a paranoid sociopath (self-admonishment, strategically premeditated action, and a constant distrust of the upper class that’s the rich for you!- those who provide him with subsistence although he plays them with his rhetoric and academic prowess – “his speech, high-flown and affecting that night, won over Mme. Derville, who as a rule found him awkward as a schoolboy).
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  • Spring '08
  • epstein
  • The Red and the Black, byronic hero, Julien, A Hero of Our Time, Parisian aristocrats Julien, Julien self acceptance

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