<i>Reconnaissance</i> in <i>La Vie de Marianne</i>

Patrick Coleman

in Anger, Gratitude, and the Enlightenment Writer

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199589340
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723322 | DOI:
Reconnaissance in La Vie de Marianne

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This chapter analyses how Marianne, the orphan heroine of Marivaux's novel La Vie de Marianne, manipulates the language of gratitude in order to secure the social recognition she believes she deserves. Although she is unable to prove her noble birth, by displaying a refined appreciation of the favors she receives she turns humiliating obligation into a self-validating evidence of high status. She transforms the hierarchical dynamic of benefaction into a mutual and more egalitarian exchange of tendresse reminiscent of the noble romances of Madeleine de Scudéry. By contrast, Marianne's noble friend Tervire's inability to devise successful recognition scenes (Terence Cave, Paul Ricœur) makes her vulnerable to social degradation. The chapter argues that this double plot illustrates Marivaux's own reflection on his status as an author dependent on, and yet empowered by, the patronage of influential women.

Keywords: tendresse; recognition; orphan; patronage; benefaction; Scudéry

Chapter.  10251 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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