Alexandre Dumas was a conservative and anti feminist author. This could help in formulating a thesis that describes him as an immoral man. Dumas were one of the French writers whose earliest forms of plays showed how he dealt with the issue of prostitution. This was seen in the play “The Lady of the Camellias, 1882,” whereby he aired out social issues in life. Many more authors that came after him also emulated his roots of writing. His life also had an effect towards his character. The reason for this is that since he was born as one of the illegitimate child, he learnt to live with his mother Marie-Laure-Catherine, who was just a dress maker, but struggled and provided for the family. He was, however, not happy with the reappearance of his father when he joined college named Bourbon, after when his father had realized the he had a talent in literature work (Hopkins, 23).
The law at this time was brutal and biased; hence his father was allowed to take him from his mother, something that left her mother in pain and suffering due to gender biases. In his writings, he emphasized on the moral values throughout, and also he espoused his belief that whenever a man fathers an illegitimate child, he should take responsibility of legitimizing the child and marrying the woman. In the boarding school where Dumas went to school, he was taunted constantly following his life’s situation. One; therefore, can conclude that it is these issues that profoundly influenced his thoughts, behavior characteristics and writing (Lewis, 48).
2) Critical Review of the Play “La Tour de Nesle” by Alexander Dumas
The Tour de Nesle was a guard tower in Paris old city that was constructed in the beginning of the 13th century. The tower is located to the south bank , and it was constructed by Phillip II of France. Later on in the 19t century, the tower was used by Alexandre Dumas as the setting for his romance play titled “La Tour de Nesle “. According to the play, the tower represented the place where, in the 14th century, the queen of France was murdered. Alexandre based this story on a legend that had existed in the 15th century that was titled Tour de Nesle Affair. The play revolves around the events that transpired in the year 1314 when the daughters in law of Phillip IV were accused of committing adultery. Because of these accusations, their alleged lovers were executed after days of being tortured and flayed. Thus, the tower was a symbol of mystery and fear. It was believed that each morning, bodies of young men would be found floating with their bodies slaughters either by sword or spear. Legend has it that the queen was on a mission to revenge all men. Thus, she would invite men into her chambers for a romantic night only for her to kill them and throw them into the river.
La tour de Nesles is a rare French movie because it is a color movie. The tower is gloomy , and its horrors are represented in the blue, green waters of the Seine. This is because the queen usually threw her one night lovers into the waters after their overnight endeavors. However, this was just a legend that was never proven true. It is in this tower where the queen awaits her young lovers to arrive before they were ruthlessly murdered by henchmen.
The story is made up of several characters. Silvana Pampanini plays the role of Marguerite de Bourgogne the queen while Pierre Brasseur takes the part of Jehan Buridan. There are two princesses namely; princess Jeanne and Blanche acted by Christine Grado and Lia Di Leo respectively. The rest of the characters include: Paul Guers (Gaultier d’Aulnay), Jacques Toja (Philippe d’Aulnay), André Gabriello (Le grand ménestrel), Nelly Kaplan (Alice), Rellys (Archer), Cadet Rivers (Le tavernier), Louis Viret (Le chef des assassins), Constant Rémy (Landry), Marcel Raine (Orsini) and Michel Bouquet (Louis X).
In the story, Margaret of Burgundy, the queen of France at the time was an unfaithful woman. She is depicted as a heartless woman who killed her lovers without a second thought. Moreover, she is witty , and this helps her to keep her affairs a secret. One night, two noble men, were lured into the tower. They had gone with the expectations of a romantic evening filled with passion but instead they were met by a vengeful woman who had a grudge against all men. Later in the evening, the queen manages to kill Phillippe but Buridan, the second man manages to escape. He begins to blackmail the queen by threatening to expose her to the king unless she makes him a prime minister.
Buridan, on the other hand, is depicted as a tricky man who manages to escape the queens clutches, hence saving his life. When he decides to blackmail the queen, he is seen as an opportunistic man who takes advantage of any available opportunity to benefit himself. Although initially a victim, the expected reaction would be to report the queen for her wrong doings and get his dead friend the justice he deserves. However, he opts to use the information he has to benefit himself, thus he is greedy and self centered. Moreover, he is immoral and promiscuous because he went to the tower with the expectation of a passionate night , yet it was common knowledge that the queen was a married woman.
However, it should be noted that the story is not an accurate representation of French history. However, the story is an entertaining and highly emotional play. Color and shade have been used to give the story an expressionists touch in order to add emphasize on the dark, sinister plot. The dark shade also gives the film a sense of historical realism.
The story revolves around two major themes. These are revenge and politics. However, sex, death, greed and betrayal are also evident in the plays. The queen is driven by her desire to avenge all men. She is beautiful and used her wits and beauty to lure young, clueless men to her chambers. She then kills them and throws hem into the river.
Politics, on the other hand, is very dominant in the story. For instance, when Buridan escapes, instead of reporting the queen so that she could be punished for a murder, he decided to use the knowledge he had to further his political aspirations. This shows that to him, political power outweighs justice.
Betrayal in the story is evident throughout. For instance, the queen betrays the king when she has affairs with other men. Also, she betrays her lovers when she has then killed to quench her thirst for revenge. So many people betray and blackmail each other in exchange for political power throughout the play.
Death is also prevalent in the film, making it extremely sad to watch. For instance the death of the male nobles men who were killed by the queen. It was said that everyday, bodies would be found floating on the Seine. This shows that death was a normal occurrence in that society.
The drama has played the role of passing the influential antifeminist message to the world. The message rocked the stages in Europe when it had premiered for the first time. The general concepts depicted in the play lie in addressing the key issues in society, such as the gender imbalance, political influences and unprincipled traditions where murder seems to be the norm. The play is criticizing the political influence that the old generations had been used to posing it as a challenge to the new generation through sensitizing it. According to the book, political power is greatly valued, and those in high political positions are willing to do anything to maintain them or move higher. This will indeed help in ensuring that the next generations will become much more sensitized and can make some visualized judgments. Immorality will also be termed as the historical functions, which still have grounds in the new and future generations. In conclusion, such plays have the main aim of educating and sensitizing the new and future generations, with the purpose of making the future generations more aware of the dangers of living immorally and the consequences that arise as a result of immorality.
Alexandre, in this play, shows the role of women as promiscuous and insensitive, contrary to what women ought to be in the society. According to his bibliography, he had little family values since his father was not a part of his life when he was very young. In this life, he had several illegitimate children and got married once although he was still having an affair with an actress at the time. Thus, the play is a representation of women as he perceives them, and is not necessarily a true description of women, especially in that century.