Homoertic Ambiguity in the Immoralist

Topics: Homosexuality, André Gide, Heterosexuality Pages: 3 (931 words) Published: October 23, 2006
It is undeniable that Andre Gide's The Immoralist, first published in 1902 in an edition of 300 copies, is at the very least, a novel predominantly dealing with Michel, the protagonist, and his search for his true authentic self amidst social and moral conventions and the subsequent consequences of deviating from these principles. It is also undeniable that it is a novel unfolding Michel's journey from a married heterosexual to a widowed homosexual. Throughout the novel Gide uses ambiguous homoerotic references to create a powerful juxtaposition of themes. The two themes collide to give the reader the complex task of ascertaining exactly how much of Michel's search is a momentous quest for a deeper understanding of his identity and how much is a disastrous facade undertaken to entertain his obvious but understated homosexual inclination. We are first introduced to Michel on his honeymoon in a self-professed loveless marriage to Marceline. He subsequently battles Tuberculosis and emerges victorious with a will to live; it is here we see the beginnings of Michel's latent homosexuality in his obsession with the local Arab boys. Michel insists his assiduity to the young boys is merely a fascination with their heath. He remarks at one point, "when he laughed he showed his brilliant white teeth, then licked the wound with delight: his tongue pink as a cat's. How healthy he was! That was what beguiled me about him: health. The health of that little body was beautiful." The sexual tone is defined... an indistinct, vague reference, nonetheless laced with pedastry, concealed in layers of Michel's self-deceit. This formless sexuality remains constant throughout the novel just as Michel continually vacillates between his love and devotion to Marceline and his desire to be free.

Michel continues with the rebirth of his new self while he abandons all previous social contracts and begins the steady annihilation of his character as well as his marriage to Marceline....

Bibliography: Rictor Norton, "Andre Gide 's Recovery of the Old Adam", The Queer Canon,(updated 9 Jan 2000): 1-13
Germaine Bree, "Form and Content in Gide," The French Review 30,No.6 (May, 1957):423 – 428.
John Weightman, "Andre Gide and The Homosexual Debate," The American Scholar,(2002):598, http://genedseminars.umb.edu/fr150/fall06/documents/Gide-homosexualdebate.pdf: 591-601
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