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Staging a Heroine in George Sand: The Path from Cosima to Claudie

From: Women in French Studies
Special Issue, Volume 5, 2014
pp. 98-105 | 10.1353/wfs.2014.0002



Through an examination of Sand's plays Cosima (1840) and Claudie (1851), we can trace the development of Sand's portrayal of the feminine condition through her heroines. In both of these plays, Sand depicts the marginalization of married women in society, elaborating on what Isabelle Naginski has termed a "feminized mal du siècle." After the failure of Cosima in 1840, Sand formulates a new path for her heroines. Claudie may be seen as the representation of the romantic heroine in theatre, where she is not only integrated into society, but also achieves independence.

As Sand states in the preface, Cosima exemplifies an attempt to establish a new genre of theater by giving a voice to the “moi intérieur” of the heroine. Cosima brings to the stage the domestic isolation of women and the inability of society to understand her plight, her only avenue of escape is suicide. Claudie continues Sand's endeavor to bring psychological realism, as Gay Manifold identifies it, to the stage and plays an integral role in the transformation of the heroine. Unlike Cosima, Claudie is able to escape the domestic isolation and seclusion of married women. Through a study of the feminine topos, Cravens probes the possibility of Sand not only staging the inner struggle of women in Cosima and Claudie, but that of herself, as well.

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