Posts Tagged ‘infidelity’

I see the way you write to him and his replies.

Nothing will ever be quite the same between him and me,

Forever changed.

It breaks my heart to know that our paths are

Diverging in different directions.

Earnestly he tells me that he

Loves me and wants to enjoy what time together we have that remains.

I try to put how he feels about you from my mind.

Taking a deep breath, I continue to love him.

You may be his future, but respect that I am his present.





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(This was written in March of 2008 for my AP Literature and Composition class.)


A sharp crack of a gunshot pierces the still air. Desperate kisses fail to revive the man lying dead, his blood pooling beneath him. The mortal accusation has been proven false but can never bury the newly unearthed feelings. Married lives in the nineteenth century were pieced together by a highly delicate thread, easily threatened by lack of understanding and trust from both the husband and wife. Couples brought together by their parents, usually for economic and aristocratic means, were lucky if they cared for one another. Marriages either remained formal relationships, or they progressed into lives filled with trust and love. In his short stories, French author Guy de Maupassant delves into the private lives of marriages both new and old, usually intimate episodes of what is seen behind closed doors. A.H. Wallace concludes that de Maupassant, in his prose, brings together a common message that marriages can be considered forms of servitude in which the wife has difficulty accepting the domineering treatment of the husband who deludes himself to believing he is the master with the ability to do as he pleases in their relationship (44). This particular attitude of marriage is supported in two of Guy de Maupassant’s short stories entitled “The Wedding Night” and “A Wife’s Confession.”

The beginning of a married life can be very stressful for the new couple, filled with embarrassing mishaps and uncomfortable situations. In Mary Halnon’s article on “Courtship and Marriage,” James Fenimore Cooper relates that in the nineteenth century, “perhaps a great majority of the females marry before the age of twenty, and it is not an uncommon thing to see them mothers at sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen.” Throughout Guy de Maupassant’s short story, “The Wedding Night,” a young woman relates her immersion into the new married life without any previous knowledge of what to expect on the night of the wedding. She is innocently naïve of the concept of sexual intercourse and enters the relationship without anticipating a progression from less intense gestures of affection. In this way, the wife detaches herself from her husband’s expectations and instead dwells on the life she has left behind, reluctant to let go of her old family life. That conviction is contrary to Cooper’s belief in “Courtship and Marriage,” stating that “the wife who is content with the affections of her husband, should grow a little indifferent to the rest of the world” (Halnon). In the short story, the husband believes that his new wife’s innocent avoidance of her duties to be a mockery and exerts his superiority and domination forcefully. “He abused odiously my listlessness and the weakness of my soul. I had not the force to resist him, or even the will. I would bear all, suffer all!” the young woman states (De Maupassant 437). This quote supports the standards of the time period that women should be the docile half of the married relationship, succumbing to the expectations of their husbands. Sometimes men become more attentive to their wives as time progresses which can be seen in Guy de Maupassant’s outcome of “The Wedding Night.” In this story, both people were able to reach a mutual understanding and trust in one another, overcoming the stigma of womanly complacency and overpowering masculinity.

Throughout a marriage, conflicts can arise and seriously threaten the relationship. The nineteenth century brought forth the unrest in societal expectations for the balance of power in marriages. Marie Stopes, as seen in the article, “Marriage in the Nineteenth Century,” promoted her feminist beliefs that were objected by many men of the time, saying, “Far too often, marriage puts an end to a woman’s intellectual life. Marriage can never reach its full stature until women possess as much intellectual freedom and freedom of opportunity within it as do their partners…we are still living in the shadow of the coercive and dwarfing influences of the past.” In De Maupassant’s short story, “A Wife’s Confession,” the woman particularly suffers under the extreme domineering and accusatory actions of her husband. The particular marriage in the story was not based on a foundation of love. “The love which is imposed, sanctioned by law, and blessed by the priest—can we call that love? A legal kiss is never as good as a stolen kiss,” states the young woman when considering her marital situation (De Maupassant 378). She believes that obligation is less favorable than the desire in the chase of courtship. Her husband, on the other hand, believes himself to be a supreme being, always correct and uncontested, never allowing consideration for a different perspective. In the particular time period of the short story, cuckoldry and infidelity were common issues and suspicions in society. “A Wife’s Confession” accounts how the Comte Hervé de Ker suspects his wife of being unfaithful. The reader observes from the viewpoint of the wife, innocent of the allegations and very confused and disturbed by her husband’s irrational behavior as he leads her on a hunt in the forest surrounding their chateau. A man suddenly runs into the clearing, shot and killed by the Comte in front of his horrified wife. Because of her reaction, her husband gets extremely vicious, throwing his spouse violently on top of the dead body. A painful cry reveals the truth as the wife’s maid appears, bringing her wrath upon the murderer of her lover before kissing the cold, dead lips in desperation. The jealousy and suspicion had overcome the husband, leading to a deteriorating affection and health of his marriage. In keeping thoughts from the other person, a married relationship is considerably weakened and potentially doomed. This being as a result of the husband believing himself powerful to take matters into his own hands accompanied by his wife’s obligatory obedience.

With both short stories, Guy de Maupassant incorporates a theme of the dangers of jumping to conclusions in marriages. It can lead to an embarrassing misconception as is seen in “The Wedding Night,” or it can have violent fatal consequences that forever damage a relationship such as the instance in “A Wife’s Confession.” A.H. Wallace and his assertions on the naïve service of the wife and the masterful dominance of the husband in marriages portrayed by De Maupassant in his works amplify these results. With these fictional accounts, De Maupassant sheds an illuminating light on how readers can relate to circumstances and issues while receiving insight on how to more appropriately approach similar situations.




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