Felicite and Yeats

1. Is Felicite a saint or a simple-minded servent? Is she neither or both? Outline your perspective on her character as compared to Mme. Aubain’s. How do they differ?

I didn’t think Felicite was a saint, exactly. She certainly loved Mme Aubain’s children with her whole heart and soul, and seemed to be just as naïve as they were. She wasn’t raised very well, being shuffled around her whole life after the death of her parents, and didn’t seem to be educated at all. She seemed to have kind of a desperation to be loved, and I think the simple-minded label fits better than the saint label. Mme Aubain, however, seemed to be a woman who could take care of herself just fine, and did after the death of her debt-riddled husband.

2. How are women imagined and characterized in the poems you read? What attitude is implied? Is it dual or contradictory? Does Baudelaire give similar weight to the description of men? What definitions of womanliness are depicted, affirmed, or criticized in his work?
Baudelaire seems as if he’s controlled by lust a lot of the time in his work. He likes women’s bodies, but he doesn’t like their spirits and personalities. He describes the younger women in his work as full of “grace and measure, richness, quietness, and pleasure’, but the image of the old woman rotting on the road and the knowledge that “you, in your turn, will be rotten as this’ seems as if he’s maliciously laughing at the fact that women will turn old and ugly. I didn’t see men described quite as in depth as he described the women; it seems more that he sees men as simply stating facts (like he does in his poems).

3. How are Chidam and Chandara distinct from Rama and Sita?
Chidam and Chandara couldn’t be any more different than Rama and Sita. Whereas Rama and Sita were always trying to be better people, and loved each other dearly, Chidam begins the story with a lie. Neither Chidam nor Chandara trust each other, and fight all the time. After his brother kills his sister in law, Chidam asks Chandara to claim the killing, reasoning that he can get another wife but he can’t get another brother. Once Chidam realizes that he actually wants his wife to live, he gives her a script to follow so the police won’t charge her with murder. The problem is, after yet another fight, Chandara doesn’t care about what Chidam wants anymore. He wants her to claim the killing? Fine. She doesn’t stick to the script, meaning that after a long trial, she’s led to the gallows. She even refuses to see her husband at the end. Both of these characters are more concerned with themselves than anyone else.

4. Pick a Yeats poem and discuss what it communicates to you.
I chose “Lapis Lazuli’. The poem begins with a description of the hysteria that overtakes the citizenry during World War II, and compares it to the description of Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet’. Yeats, through his poem, is telling the citizens to calm down and remember that although the world is at war, there is no need to be hysterical and depressed. The poem actually reminded me of the poster “Keep Calm and Carry On’. Yeats is saying to carry on and do your job without the tears, and to remember the good things in life. After all, he’s got the “Lapis Lazuli’ — given as a gift from his friend, the little statue depicts two Chinese men climbing up a mountain, happy as could be, even though the cracks in the stone make it seem as if they’re climbing through an avalanche.

2 thoughts on “Felicite and Yeats

  1. jwmaring

    I agree with you in part on your first discussion question response. I viewed Felicite more as being simple minded than a saint, although both were probably apt descriptions of her. But I felt that Mme. Aubain could not take care of herself just fine. I felt she had a lot of help, especially coming from Felicite. I viewed the two of them as being virtually dependent on each other.

  2. swtrinchet

    I agree with the observation of them being virtually dependent on each other. In some ways, it made me think of a dry marriage. They filled the gaps left by other people leaving their lives. Aubain was Felicite’s replacement parent and Felicite was the platonic partner for Aubain to lean on.

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