The Life of Herculine Barbing

Good Essays
Topics: Gender, Love
Michelle Kim
September 28, 2012
HIST 312

Response Paper on Foucault

Upon reading Herculine Barbin, it helped me understand the difficulties in which Herculine had, living as a hermaphrodite living in his century, as it is still very difficult to lead such a life now. However, many parts of the reading were ambiguous because she never exactly mentions the condition of her body or what kind of sickness she is exactly suffering from. Although she always mentions the fact that she is suffering and in a great deal of pain, she only goes as far to describe the way she looks from the outside and how the others perceive her sickness.
In the beginning of the novel, I can’t help but be confused about Herculine’s sexual identity. She describes herself as being born in a hospital that treats for “sick people of both sexes,” but it seems though, for the time being, she is going to be living on as a female. However, advancing into the story, we see the sorts of intimacy she gets into as she declares her love for other girls. This is another way to show the reader of the uncertainty in the identification of her gender. “I loved her at first sight, and though her outward appearance had nothing about it that was dazzling, it was irresistibly attractive because of the modest grace that was shed over her entire person.” This quote represents a bit of masculinity yet also the femininity that was present within Herculine. Herculine seemed to be warm around other girls and woman, like any other female, but there was a certain different intimacy. She had grown up with women and it had taught her to be feminine and loving. However, because women surround her, it allowed her to explore her sexuality and employ it as much as possible. We can see uncertainty of gender arising here. Another uncertainty we see is the intelligence that is present in Herculine. She is described as being the smartest and as being very studious. Some of her traits do make it seem as though she was born

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