Vipers' Tangle

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  • Topic: Nobel Prize, Nobel Prize in Literature, Love
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Vipers’ Tangle
By: Franҁois Mauriac
A. Author’s Background

Franҁois Mauriac
* born in Bordeaux, France on October 19, 1885
* his mother was a devout Catholic and was influenced of Jansenist thought * studied at the University of Bordeaux and received his M.A. on 1905 * stayed only for a few months in École des Chartes on 1908 and decided to devote himself entirely to Literature * Mauriac’s style is poetic

* Forez was his pseudonym
* In 1952, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature "for the deep spiritual insight and the artistic intensity with which he has in his novels penetrated the drama of human life. * According to his speech in the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in Stockholm, in December 10, 1952, the novelist's gift consists precisely in his ability to reveal the universality of this narrow world into which we are born, where we have learned to love and to suffer. He admits that the reader demands that we deceive him by agreeable falsehoods. Nonetheless, those works that have survived in the memory of mankind are those that have embraced the human drama in its entirety and have not shied away from the evidence of the incurable solitude in which each of us must face his destiny until death, that final solitude, because finally we must die alone.

* He was awarded the Grand Cross of the Légion d'honneur in 1958 for Le Noeud de Vipères (Vipers’ Tangle)

B. Characters
C. Plot
D. Symbols
a. Vipers’ Tangle
* Hatred of his children
* Desire for revenge
* Love of money
* Refusal to seek beyond those entangled vipers

b. Spring
* The Spring signals Louis’ happiness.
a. He was so happy when a woman came to love him in the person of Isa but it took more than half a century before he experienced that same happiness that he had after his marriage. “How strange it is that, at those beginnings of life when a little happiness is handed out to us, there is no voice which warns us… this first spring on which you have stumbled is also the last. Quench your thirst, once and for all; you shall not drink again.” c. Summer

* his children gather on summer evenings to sing songs but the enjoyment goes off when he passes by the drawing room * This signals his transformation. One hot summer on August 1896, he was again trying to win his children in hand again. d. Rain / Hail

* The rain has always been regarded as the symbol for rebirth and in last chapter of the 1st part, Louis realizes that it’s never too late for them to begin their lives again and that unconsciously, he starts to accept God’s grace. This becomes evident after Isa’s death when he talked to Genevieve and Hubert where he felt that his hatred and passion for revenge went dead and that he looks forward to being with his children for the first time.

e. Marie’s death
* The only child for whom he ever felt true love, Marie, died young. Like Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, Marie died for her Papa to redeem him. We can infer that had Marie did not die young and Luc went missing, Louis would just have his eyes on his two most beloved and would never see the path to God’s saving grace.

E. Theme
* sin vs. grace
* God’s grace is accessible to anyone. Even the most miserly old sinner like Louis who strips himself of all his old illusions as he prepares for his inevitable end. Taking a cold, hard look at his life, and at the consequences of his meanness and solipsism, Louis begins to understand how a deliberate self-deception has shaped his life for ill, not for good. We are presented with a malevolent old man on his deathbed; the author’s case is simply this: no one is beyond the reach of God’s grace. Without romanticizing Louis, Mauriac expresses the tragedy of a wasted life, the tragedy of a man who has closed himself off from a...
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