Critical Analysis of De La Fayette's Princesse De Cleves as a Royal Exemplary Novel Kings, Queens, and Splendor

Author: Paulson, Michael
The present study shows that most of the so-called digressions and marginal historical figures play an integral role in the proper interpretation of La Princesse. More than mere background, these are examples for the heroine to follow or avoid. The lessons that Diane de Poitiers, Mary Stuart et al fail to master warn the Princess of the dangers of foolish behavior. Drawing on the kings and queens we show how the examples play on the heroine's (and perhaps the reader's) mind, first subconsciously, then consciously. The work also speculates through analogy and textual examples on various problems posed by the author/narrator's silences: how long did the heroine live, what is her first name, and how stable is the Valois society. The critical work draws on criticism from various methodologies and attempts to integrate them within the scope of narrative and mythic history.