Duncan 1991 Violence

Title Information

Author: Janice M. Duncan

Title: Violence in the Short Stories of Guy de Maupassant

Subtitle: -

Thesis: Ph.D. Thesis, University of Nebraska

Year: December 1991

Pages: 247pp.

Language: English

Keywords: 19th Century | French History | Representations: Literature / Guy de Maupassant

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Link: ProQuest (Restricted Access)

Additional Information


Guy de Maupassant's work encompasses 300 short stories and novellas, studied here from the point of view of violence which was on the increase in French society during the period of 1865-1890. The majority of Maupassant's works were composed between 1879 and 1892.
Maupassant wrote about all types of violence at all levels of society. The family was often the common social unit and within this, the couple. He portrayed women as sexual or as maternal beings and, in both cases, they followed their animal Instinct to procreate. Men were their victims, falling into a trap set by nature. Love and marriage were considered to be incompatible, the latter a state of servitude for both male and female. Matrimony created conditions which were imposed by society and were not natural. The outcome of this were frequent violent situations resulting in psychological or physical harm.
Often, In marriage, violent outbursts came when the woman entered Into an adulterous relationship causing the husband to react explosively out of jealousy, or to suffer being considered a cuckold If he did not react.
In relationships not bound by marriage vows, violence could occur when one tired of the other and decided to leave, perhaps to enter Into a respectable marriage. Whereas relationships provided the source of most of the violence in Maupassant's fiction, it also grew out of rape and situations where mental derangement, vengeance, or greed were factors. He further Included tales of suicide and war, especially the Franco-Prussian war which he experienced personally.
Maupassant published most of his works in newspapers of the day. Therefore, he was competing with the "fait divers" for the attention of the readers. He took plots which reflected current social conditions and set them in language which he manipulated to create an atmosphere of sinister oppression. He held the interest of his reading audience while presenting a narrative of much greater depth and richness than the ordinary news item.« (Source: Thesis)


  Acknowledgements (p. iii)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Chapter 1: Women and Violence in the Works of Maupassant (p. 8)
    Marriage (p. 10)
    Adultery (p. 17)
    The Cuckold (p. 22)
    Women as Mothers (p. 25)
    Prostitutes (p. 38)
    Innocents as Victims (p. 43)
    Non-sexual Violence (p. 49)
  Chapter 2: Men in Violent Relationships (p. 54)
    Violence Within Marriage (p. 57)
    Lovers and Rapists (p. 69)
    Illegitimacy (p. 80)
  Chapter 3: Violence Motivated by Insanity, Vengeance and Greed (p. 95)
    Insanity (p. 95)
    Vengeance (p. 100)
    Greed (p. 103)
  Chapter 4: War and Suicide (p. 121)
    War (p. 121)
    Suicide (p. 140)
  Chapter 5: Beyond the "fait divers" (p. 155)
    Frame (p. 170)
    Setting (p. 172)
    Water (p. 172)
    Trees (p. 179)
    Mask (p. 187)
    Breakdown of Communication (p. 199)
    Style (p. 205)
  Conclusion (p. 219)
  Works Consulted (p. 226)

Wikipedia: Guy de Maupassant

Added: February 7, 2015 – Last updated: February 7, 2015