Role of Women in Maupassant's Works

Topics: Short story, Guy de Maupassant, Woman Pages: 5 (1645 words) Published: October 21, 2007
Guy de Maupassant is one of the most popular French short story writers from the 19th Century and was also considered to be the father of modern short story writings. Maupassant belonged to the naturalistic school and took issues like the attitudes of the bourgeoisie or the Franco-Prussian War, along with the highly fashionable life of France in his age, and these became the key aspects of the cynical style of writing.

Taking some of the aspects of his life in relation to his works, it is stated that he normally didn't like work and whenever he found free time, for which he actually searched for, he used to spend it in pursuit of women, which can probably relate to how he expresses hypocrisy in women's characters and have a better understanding of them. So speaking of this fact, it can some how be related to the aspect of the role of women in Maupassant's work which is one of the key aspects in his pessimistic views in his stories as well. When women are taken into account, the first thing that comes into mind is the fact that Maupassant presents a clash between the bourgeoisie and the high-profile French class. This not only highlights the theme mentioned earlier, but also the role of women in such environments.

The short stories that can be taken with regard to this particular aspect include "The Umbrella" where Maupassant expresses the protagonist Mme. Oreille as someone who is completely dominant and ruthless. In the beginning of the story it is mentioned that the main character Mme Oreille was:

"…a very economical woman… possessed a whole storehouse of strict principals with regard to the multiplication of money"

…which indicates the fact that she is greedy but the negative connotation to her character doesn't start from here. Being an economical person is not bad in itself, but as the story proceeds the readers understand her character in a different way and she is in fact presented as a miser who wouldn't allow her husband to ‘waste' money on a mere umbrella. So generally speaking Maupassant is basically highlighting the bourgeois class and how women tend to have disrespect for their husbands when the aspect of material wealth comes in. He has given the actual insight of the people in this class and the women who ruin it, resulting in losing their dignity because of their greed.

The dominating role of a woman is expressed in the short story "The Artist" where Maupassant mentions the woman to be hateful and despised by her husband. Her husband states:

"Ah! Monsieur, what an abominable creature she was – if you only knew!"

And also:

"Her evil laugh which makes fun of me, and her cowardly laugh which defies me? Yes, cowardly, because she knows that nothing can happen to her, nothing, in spite of all she deserves, in spite of all that I ought to do to her, in spite of all that I WANT to do to her."

When the above statements are highlighted on the woman in question it is said that she was one of those people who had no respect for her husband. She made fun of her husband and in return she got his hate. Maupassant here is trying to express the fact that men are harmless and they tend to be kind in all manners and in the end become victims of the vicious characters of women.

Another striking story, in relation to the role of women, is "Was it a Dream?" Maupassant here is trying to depict the appearance of a woman in front of her husband and the reality behind the actual self and also the fact that how she pretended to be in front of him; which is later on revealed to him via supernatural means. The gravestone tells the readers about the woman in the words:

"She loved, was loved and died"

There is a hidden truth behind the lines mentioned about her on the gravestone and that is one of the aspects of which her husband isn't even aware of. So Maupassant in this particular short story is trying to mention the woman as the one who deceives her husband; the husband being the person who is...
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