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In 17 th century France, women were expected to give birth to a son to be heir to the estates. If a daughter was born the mother was expected to bring.

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Presentation on theme: "In 17 th century France, women were expected to give birth to a son to be heir to the estates. If a daughter was born the mother was expected to bring."— Presentation transcript:

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2 In 17 th century France, women were expected to give birth to a son to be heir to the estates. If a daughter was born the mother was expected to bring her up in her own image. In the Salons, this mirroring mother-daughter relationship was seen as the perfect one. Sévigné would have known this, and so perhaps is seeking to improve her social status through creating the “perfect” mother daughter relationship. This relationship would have been known to many due to the nature of sharing letters in the salons, so a reputation could be built quickly. Sévigné sees letters as a show of love, therefore encourages her daughter to respond to each of them promptly. This presentation of love was an ideal in 17th century France, but the mother regarding the daughter as an extension of the self, and the daughter seeing herself as a part of the mother (the mirroring relationship), negates the possibility of true differentiation which is vital to a healthy emotional relationship. ( See Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination, 1988) Although the relationship has a very obvious mirroring, Sévigné wants to express her love more than her daughter to emphasize her role as guardian. By doing this she is asking her daughter to recognise her personal subjectivity. BUT, “the only way to be recognised as an autonomous self within the relationship where it matters is to acknowledge the daughter’s own psychic autonomy.” Therefore, by not doing this, no matter how hard she tries, Sévigné can never increase the mother-daughter love to a greater level than that created by the mirrored relationship and, as mentioned above, this type of relationship is not the greatest at nurturing love.

3 “J'admire comme je vous écris avec vivacité, et comme je hais d'écrire à tout le reste du monde. Je trouve, en écrivant ceci, que rien n'est moins tendre que ce que je vous dis: comment? j'aime à vous écrire! c'est donc signe que j'aime votre absence, ma fille; voilà qui est épouvantable. Ajustez tout cela, et faites si bien que vous soyez persuadée que je vous aime de tout mon cœur.” Sévigné often wrote ”lettres de provision” whilst she waited a response from her daughter. Although these additional letters were outside the boundaries of the mirrored mother-daughter epistolary relationship, she claims that she has her reasons for doing so, namely a love of writing. In the above quote Sévigné assigns her daughter the reflective role of supporting her mother regardless of what feelings she herself may have toward Sévigné’s love of her absence. (See Katharine Ann Jensen, Mother-Daughter Mirroring in Madame de Sévigné's Letters: Identity Confusion and the Lure of Intimacy)

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8 Contrast between Good and Evil Opposition of Athalie and Josabet Opposition of Athalie and Joas Mirroring episodes Structural mirroring –as a source of dramatic tension

9 mirroring between characters mirroring between episodes in play structural mirroring (rhyme and rhythm) ‘Si je verse des pleurs, ce sont des pleurs de rage,’ mirroring as source of dramatic tension mirroring and the influence of classicism natural order turned on its head ‘In the universe of Rodogune… the ‘natural’ order of the world has been turned on its head. Male hierarchy has been usurped and in the place of the Father/ King now stands the frightening image of a deranged queen.’ (Greenberg) overview

10 “Mirror mirror on the wall….” Mirroring in individual stories -Does outer appearance mirror inner beauty? "Riquet à la Houppe”- beauty vs intelligence “Barbe Bleu”- ugly beard mirrors evil personality “Le petit Pouçet”- the ugly child is the intelligent one -Mother must be a mirror to her husband and children- “Griseldis”- virtuous mother is rewarded in the end “Barbe Bleu”- punishment for disobeying husband Mirroring between the contes- Problem// resolution. As bedtime stories, children can guess at the endings. Contes used to “plaire et instruire”, mirror behaviour of characters Recurrent themes- magic, love, intelligence triumphing over all. Evil father figures.

11 Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination, 1988 Katharine Ann Jensen, Mother-Daughter Mirroring in Madame de Sévigné's Letters: Identity Confusion and the Lure of Intimacy Véronique Desnain, Les Faux Miroirs: The Good Woman/Bad Woman Dichotomy in Racine’s Tragedies J. Dryhrust, Athalie Wendy Perkins, Midwifery and medicine in early modern France: Louise Bourgeois, (Exeter 1996) Greenberg, Mitchell Corneille, Classicism and the Ruses of Symmetry, (Cambridge University Press, 1986 )

12 Mirroring Symmetry Parallels Opposition Natural order (Alongside relevant text title/author)


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