Trio Relationships: Desire, Identity, and Power in Beauvoir's L'Invitee and Truffaut's Jules et Jim

by Gardner, Rose Esther

Abstract (Summary)
This study focuses on the emergence of two trio relationships during and after the Second World War in France. The first work, a piece of literature written by Simone de Beauvoir in 1943 entitled LInvitée, illustrates the story of a trio relationship between two women and a man that ends in murder. The second work, a film directed by François Truffaut entitled Jules et Jim, gives the account of another fatalistic trio relationship (however, this time between two men and a woman). In both of these works, the trios become the loci of a reflection on the ways in which the chaos and confusion of war enter into the lives of the individual characters. The asymmetry present in the trio relationships perpetuates violence, and the specific kinds of struggles for power coincide in antagonistic ways as the characters strive to re-invent love. The triangular relationships are observed in relation to three main elementsdesire, identity, and power. Chapter one explores how several mechanisms of desire function in relation to crises of identity and the confusion of the individual in French society: this includes an examination of aspects such as marriage, games of seduction and rejection, and platonic conceptions of love and unity that are marked by hostility and destruction. Chapter two examines several ways in which bonding manifests itself in relation to war, male homosexuality, and male homosociality in Truffauts film. Namely, the chapter explores how two sites of powerone, the physical location of a gymnasium, and the other, the conceptual place of warillustrate a kind of violence displayed towards women and homosexuals that is made particularly visible through male bonding and several kinds of patriarchal allegiances. Chapter three focuses on the ways in which the third body itself in the trio comes to represent a kind of spectacle in Beauvoirs LInvitée. Through an analysis of scopophilia and voyeurism, the third body becomes the focal point of the characters own fantasieshowever, these fantasies carry out and engage in destructive forms of masochism and sadomasochism. The emergence of these two works in France symbolizes a kind of resistance against bourgeois values during mid-century France. Yet, although the two triangular relationships attempt to subvert normative social values that constrain the individual within societyconstraints that surround the family unit, love, sexuality, gender roles, homosexuality, and identitythe trios represent instead the symbol of different forms of loss in a war-torn France where political upheaval disturbed the nation and the individual.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Todd Reeser; Annie Jouan-Westlund; Giuseppina Mecchia; Nevine Demian

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:05/18/2009

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