Manon Lescaut ( by Abbé Prévost) analytical paper

The Fiction of Relationship {Coursera / Brown} – WEEK 2 HOMEWORK

 

 

Symbiotic relationships: the shortcomings of youth

Symbiosis might qualify for a true definition of the ideal love; each partner mutually depending on the other, forming a beneficial co-existence. Age and maturity substantially contribute to such a state between a couple. I would assume the alternative term, fusion, the union of two separate individuals into one entity, even on spiritual premises, was perhaps unheard of in the 18th century and highly doubtful whether it can truly be achieved even by today’s standards. Siding with a somewhat cynical approach of the novel, I am inclined to suggest that the couple’s ill-fated story was one of co-existence, taken to an extreme, but symbiotic? Hardly.

Enter Manon, a young lady, forever infatuated by new temptations to expense. (p. 72: §119) Her poorest of backgrounds didn’t allow for many choices to earn her living. Satisfied with finding affluent, funding suitors, she trespasses on de Grieux’s intense amour, callously suggesting that whom one beds is not necessarily whom one loves. Precarious words in the case of our protagonist, who foolishly believes that her figure transcends into a divine dimension, equal to that of Magdalene or – blasphemously – God himself. Manon puts her own individual self and lust for luxury above all costs, even that of her dignity.

Web. Retrieved 17 June 2013 from http://www.livre-ancien.eu

His uncontrollable passion for the woman is so intense that he soon spirals into a chain of unlawful actions in order to subsidize their bond;  his newly found thousand sentiments of pleasure (p. 22: §39) drives  him in defiance of family, church, law and social order. His idea of love, sanctified in his state of mind, justifies the means to an end. Yet, how can one expect mere children of our age (p. 28: §49)  discovering sexual ecstasy for the first time – in case of the man in our story – take love seriously?

Pleasure and plenty she loved too well to sacrifice them for my sake (p.77: §128), he exclaims frantically when he faces the danger of losing her affections over his own material deficits. In a sense symbiosis here is substituted by  emotional leeching. Manon sucked on de Grieux’s feelings, he on the other hand was pumping more blood in his affective veins, nonetheless. Modern psychologists would likely call it sociopathic or a serious case of mental obsession on his behalf. It is no wonder that his only true friend, Tiberge, perhaps acting as the voice of a fictitious, wiser, older brother this time, puts aside his empathy and curses the wretched union: “…and may you yourself remain alone and deserted, to learn the vanity of these things, which now divert you from better pursuits!” (p.97:  §156)

All in all, the novel symbolizes fiction of a non symbiotic relationship, hence not reflecting a true love story but rather a doomed, youthful, carnal infatuation, which led both individuals to their demise.

Works cited:

Prévost, Abbé. Manon Lescaut. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Project Gutenberg. Web. 17 June 2013. <http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/468&gt;.

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One comment on “Manon Lescaut ( by Abbé Prévost) analytical paper

  1. Pingback: An Analytical Paper on Manon Lescaut | Project 'Pen'

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