Evaluate the importance of Jean Azevedo and Anne in the novel Thérèse Desqueyroux
Mauriac uses the relatively minor characters of Jean and Anne to construct two essential relationships with Therese, which have an influence on the way in which we perceive Therese as a character, and how we feel towards her, whether it is sympathy or disdain. The important roles they both play is displaying two vastly constricting people, how they interact with Therese, and the way the two wildly differing relationships have an effect of the protagonist. Jean offers Therese an insight into life outside Argelouse: the life of the intellectual, the cultured man, the happiness that comes with acting on your desires. Sadly, this vision is fleeting for Therese, and, as the dream of Jean slips ever from her grasp, she is haunted by what Anne de la Trave represents: conformity to societal expectation, subservience and obedience, and the upkeep of family honour. Ironically, despite the fact that the relationship are so antithetical in appearance, both inevitably make Therese feel isolated and separate from her surroundings, and in this interpretation, we might understand the figures of Jean and Anne as Therese’s desire and expectation personified.
Therese is tormented by the fact that she is averse to everything that constitutes her life. The restrictions society puts her under which means she cannot express herself fully, the fact that she lives in a provincial, parochial, isolated area of rural France, filled with people she cannot associate with or relate to, and the nature that she is confined to stay where she is, with little liberty to roam or explore. So when Jean Azevedo appears to her as a taste of everything she yearns for, she falls for what he represents. She first comes across Jean in order to discuss his relationship with Anne, which we begin to feel incredulous as to why it ever happened since we discover they are such contrasting personalities. Jean carries a certain foreign charm, autonomy and liberty about him which Therese is fascinated by. He lives by the motto of “etre soi-meme” (“to be oneself”) which would have been controversial in a society with such rigidly enforced restrictions, yet this liberty to construct your life how you want to it to be absorbs Therese. Indeed, Bernard makes very clear that due to the fact that Jean is Jewish and from a Portuguese background with tuberculosis in the family, he should be isolated and avoided. Yet, Therese, evidently not in concordance with Bernard in priorities, is drawn by these differences, seeing them as interests, whereas everyone else is repelled. Jean lives his life so that “chaque minute doit apporter sa joie” (“each minute must bring one’s own joy”) and Therese admires and is jealous of this in him, that he has the integrity to exist by this philosophy. Mauriac almost presents Jean as an innate part of Therese; her desires, dreams and ambition. Jean leaves Argelouse for Paris, and indeed Therese thinks of fleeing to Paris. Moreover, when Jean does leave, Therese says “Ce fut surtout apres le depart d’Azevedo que je l’ai connu, ce silence” (“it was especially after the departure of Azevedo that I knew it, this silence”) and this melancholy is brought about by the fact that Jean made her realise that the only part of her which makes her persist on living, is the ambition to escape, to join the “elite nombreuse, ceux qui existent” (“numerous elite, those who exist”). This is an example of Jean being the desires of Therese: when he leaves, so does her energy and ambition, relationships worsen between Bernard and Therese, and it is the catalyst for the poisoning.
Jean also provides an intellectual opportunity for Therese, which she has found very little of in Argelouse. Jean reads books and discusses philosophy, much of which Therese finds difficult to follow. Indeed, she buys some book recommended to her by Jean and reads them after he has left for Paris, yet does not understand them and grows frustrated. It reveals to her how perhaps this vision of her being apart from convention and having her own governance is illusive and unrealistic. And this frustration at the realisation of not being able to achieve what she wants to is continued when she sees the happiness of Anne when she is with Jean. She is jealous of this pleasure and euphoria and pierces the photo of Jean in a moment of fiery unjust emotion; is she jealous of Anne , or rather jealous of Jean? I think we are meant to think Therese admires Jean’s realistic outlook on life and human emotion. He comments on Anne’s “seules heures de vraie passion” (“only hours of real passion” spent with him, and the fact he uses the word “passion” here suggests he is not in love, like Anne is with him, but rather this is fleeting affair, like Therese’s fleeting sight of her dreams. I feel that, through the presentation of Jean, Therese sees herself and, damningly, figures out the fine line between ambition and reality.
Whereas Jean plays an important role in the novel in illustrating Therese’s desires, Anne plays a crucial one in portraying the expectations of her and the consequences of not conforming. She represents society in effect: what is required of her, the subservience women were expected to align to. If anything, her character merely heightens and makes more vivid the contrasts between Therese and the context within which she lives. She is depicted as a girl with little intelligence; “une ame tout simple” (“a completely simple spirit”), and ditsy women, with little political opinion, were admired at the time as being suitable to bring up a family. Therese of course is the complete opposite of this: an educated, insightful, interested woman, and this contrast in character helps to emphasise how out of place Therese feels. Indeed, even when Anne has her fling with Jean, she is quickly manipulated by the family and has some “sense” talked back into her. She very rapidly falls back into line, into the customary expectation of formality, cordiality and obedience: “il n’avait pas fallu longtemps pour lui passer la bride et pour la mettre au pas” (“It did not take him long to take up the bridle and to put her in it”). Therese is in contrast to Anne when Anne offers the reader a stereotypical maternal figure towards Therese’s child, Marie. Therese is disinterested, lethargic and uncaring whereas Anne appears gentle, attentive and loving. Anne seems to be everything people want Therese to be; yet the reader is disposed to feel sympathy for Therese because the people who surround her are conformists, and incredulous to the characteristics of Therese. The fact that Anne and Therese used to be so close as childhood friends and now seem to be so distant, exemplified by the way in which Anne does not understand Therese’s inactivity when it comes to her child, is perhaps suggestive further of how time affects opinion, and opinion affects relationships. As I perceive Anne as Therese’s expectation to conform, seeing that Anne went to school in a Catholic Convent, very much a traditional place for girls to go, and Therese to an unfamiliar secondary school, was perhaps proleptic of the fact that Therese has always been straying from the expectations and what was normal. The differences to do with reading, for example, Anne “n’a pas la manie de lire” (“did not have the mania to read”), which was something perhaps supported by men as it allowed little opportunity for opinion and thought, thus maintaining the patriarchal society, whereas Therese as we know loved to read and think. These early divides, one to subservience, the other to rebellion, were perhaps not mere separate pathways, but clear indications about Therese’s desire not to conform.
In conclusion, despite not playing huge roles in the novel, Anne and Jean both have vital roles in representing and illustrating the separate feelings of Therese’s desire to escape and to fulfil her dream; portrayed by Jean, and the expectations and desire for conformity by society; conveyed by Anne. The effect of having these emotions personified and embodied into characters, makes us feel as though Mauriac is making the audience’s experience of interacting with these emotions more intimate. Yet, the fact that they are characters, also means Therese can speak to them, and makes her interaction and questioning of these conflicting emotions all the more poignant, deepening and effective.
How does the setting affect the events and characters in Thérèse Desqueyroux
Mauriac uses setting as a vital component to constructing the proceedings and mood of the novel. The prevalent comparison we are easily able to see and make, which concern the concept of setting and how it influences the readers perception of the novel, are Argelouse and Paris. Argelouse which comes to stand for Therese’s prison and her entrapment, and the illusionary dream of Paris, which conversely represents her liberty and autonomy. The fact they are so geographically distant from one another, helps to create the sense of considerable separation in what they mean for Therese, and it is this dichotomy that these places make, which makes the characters, in particular Therese, act the way they do.
Therese is presented with living in Argelouse which “est réellement une extrémité de la terre” (“is really an extremity of the earth”) in an area of France which values the pines as almost sacred or essentially institutional to the community. This provincial district is antiquated, isolated and rigid in sticking to traditional conformity. For Therese, not only does what the community stand for disagree with her liberal-minded, progressive, individualistic outlook of life, but also the physical nature of the area does not agree with her. The town has very little to occupy her, with its residents not very intellectually stimulated, like Anne who, once Therese’s best childhood friend, did not attend the same school as Therese, and thus does not read or do any of the things Therese enjoys doing. Thus, the different settings in which Therese and Anne were educated, comes to precipitate and escalate the sense of divide between the characters’ previous intimate relationship. The fact that Argelouse is so isolated and with little going on, it helps to heighten the feeling of peculiarity when something unusual of different happens, like the Priest who comes to Argelouse and conducts the services different to how the people would usually expect them: “Ce n’est pas le genre qu’il faut ici … », « il est très exact … mais il manque d’onction …“ (“he is not the type of person needed here….”, “he is very exact…but he lacks unction”). Thus, in presenting Argelouse as a parochial, backward village, Mauriac ironically emphasises the differences between the normal world and Argelouse, and indeed, Therese seems to be the only person drawn by the Priest and who likes him, highlighting the antithetical nature of her character to the setting around her. Everyone knows her business in Argelouse and she wishes to escape that to a place where “la loi eût été de “devenir soi-même” (« the law would have been to “become oneself”) – she feels she can never be free from judgement there.
The effect of the pines is a considerable one in terms of pathetic fallacy. In some ways, the pines is one of the reasons Therese marries Bernard, so that her wealth could expand. Yet ironically, like her marriage which prevents her from escaping all that she hates, the pines come to stand for her ensnarement, as if in this marital act, she has caught herself. Indeed, her frustration with being made to feel claustrophobic by the surrounding trees climaxes when she imagines vividly setting all the pines alight, burning everything the community stands for and in doing so, removing what is preventing her from escaping. It is no coincidence that the point at which Therese begins the poisoning of Bernard is when there is a fire in the pines, subtly hinting at rising tension. But this obsession Bernard has when fretting over the welfare of his pines, provokes Therese to poisoning him since she realises he cares more for the community, for societal conformity, that her as his wife. Argelouse thus heightens Therese’s suffering and her anguished feelings, so much so even the weather presents her with images of entrapment : ”la pluie ininterrompue multipliait autour de la sombre maison ses millions de barreaux mouvants “ (“the uninterrupted rain multiplied around the dark house its millions of moving bars”)
Paris is portrayed by Mauriac as everything Therese has been wanting through her life in Argelouse. It represents her individuality, liberty and escape, as well as an opportunity to reinvent herself as her own person, with the benefit of having her past concealed by the nature community separation. It is evident that this dream heightens her anguish at her situation, particularly when Jean, somebody who lives this freedom and embodies all it stands for, appears right in front of her, but then fleetingly drifts away, like the reality of her dream does. In fact, ever since she meets Jean, there is a certain increased suffering she experiences at the concept that she feels so far away from the life she wants to lead – she has to imagine, fantasise at the life she can invent for herself. She is constantly comparing her life in Paris at the end of the novel to that she experienced in Argelouse: how people are not fearful of her anymore, how one woman even smiled at her. What Therese missed in Argelouse is people, and what Paris offers her is the company of being surrounded by “la foret vivante” (“the living forest”) which she says she would happily watch for days on end because it is people who interest her. As we see here, she compares animate humans with the static pines in Argelouse, like when she says she cannot wait to see the “la foule des gens apres la foule des arbres” (“the crowd of people after the crowd of trees”) in Paris. This constant comparison helps to emphasise how much Therese despised Argelouse and how much she appreciates her liberty, yet it might also suggest that the pines are an intrinsic part of her. This is supported by the fact that when she gets up to go out in Paris, she looks at herself in the mirror and sees that she is looking pretty, but that Argelouse has left its mark on her through the fact she looks like she has aged. It is as if there will always be a part of Argelouse embedded in her.
In conclusion, it is evident that setting plays a huge role in not only developing the characters and the events in the novel, but also in directing the reader how to feel towards a situation or a character, what emotions to apply to them. Whether it be explicitly emphasising emotion or implicitly revealing the differences between place and protagonist, it is so important in contributing to the reading of the novel and the eventual outcome.
How Mauriac Succeeds in Making Us Feel Pity Towards Therese at the Start of the Novel
Francois Mauriac presents Therese Desqueroux in a somewhat ambivalent, ambiguous way. She is a woman who has committed a crime against her husband, Bernard, but cannot fathom what compelled her to do so. In this light, the reader is presented with a complex case where you have to grapple with moments where we are supposed to condemn her crime, and moments where we feel intense pity and empathy for this troubled woman. In a society that was very much founded on the principals that the family profile must be upheld and men had control over the women and their choices, we are meant to sympathise with the women in the novel to an extent, and thus Therese.
Mauriac initially expresses his own pity and empathy for what Therese is suffering or struggling to deal with, by saying in the introduction “Therese, beaucoup diront que tu n’existe pas. Mais je sais que tu existe” (“Therese, many will say that you do not exist. But I know that you exist”). By expressing an understanding of who she is and how she is feeling when others cannot comprehend what she is going through, it is a powerful way for Mauriac to link him to his protagonist, evoking a pity from the reader as the author, who is constructing this image, is sympathetic of her. The introduction is a means of Mauriac to directly speak to the reader about Therese, and thus we are encouraged by him to pity her; to accept and understand her complexity and not to make quick judgement like the rest of her family does when they are incredulous as to why she committed this crime when they have given her ‘everything’. The irony here is that they have far from done this- leaving her emotionally isolated, misunderstood and trapped in the “barreaux vivants d’une famille” (“the living bars of a family”). Indeed, the epigraph, taken from a Charles Baudelaire poem about a woman with a certain peculiarity, says that we should accept people for what they are, since they are made in the eyes of God and therefore are natural “Seigneur, ayez pitie, ayez pitie des fous et des folles! O createur!” (“Lord, have pity, have pity on the mad people! Oh Creator!”)
Mauriac does not try to justify Therese’s crimes and realises what she has done is wrong, but he believes that redemption is possible as she is not an inherently bad person- admitting her faults, and the decisions she made in the past. Mauriac ends the introduction by saying “Du moins, sur ce trottoir ou je t’abandonne, j’ai l’espérance que tu n’es pas seule” (“At least, on the sidewalk where I abandon you, I hope you’re not alone”) which sounds like a more positive outlook on her fate. Therese in chapter two says ‘’moi je ne connais pas mes crimes” (“Me, I did not understand my crimes”) which makes us feel pity since she is presented as vulnerable and confused almost with a turbulent mind. The way in which the book is written almost feels as if Therese is narrating it and thus we get moments of Therese’s great intimate inner emotion: how she describes her family, how she is treated by them, and how she feels trapped by her surroundings and societal expectation. Indeed, in chapter one after the end of the course case, the men leave the court in front of Therese leaving her isolated behind, to fend for herself almost down the “marches mouillees” (“wet steps”) and her father insensitively only cares about whether this scandal will affect his political career, dissociating himself from sympathy for Therese- “ce qu’il appelle l’honneur du nom est sauf; d’ici les elections senatoriales…” (“What he calls the honour of the name is safe; by the senatorial elections…”). Furthermore, we feel pity for her when Bernard regards her and her pregnancy as merely a business progression so that the lineage of the Desquerouxs will continue and that the pines will be cared for: “il contemplait avec respect la femme qui portait dans ses flancs le maitre de pins” (“he contemplated with respect the woman who carried in her flanks the master of the pines”) which feels like she is being objectified for her womanhood and thus we are invited to pity her.
As well as family, the setting in which Therese lives acts as source of pity for her. It is isolated, small with very little going on, and is inhabited by few wealthy families obsessed with societal expectation- “Argelouse est reellement une extremite de la terre” (“Argelouse really is an extremity of the earth”). She finds it all so insular, and the people who live there so antiquated, parochial and uncultured. The swathes of pines for the locals are images of heritage, wealth and prosperity, but for her are he prison. She says she feels ensnared by the pines and wants to replace all the pines with people, and it is perhaps this desire for animation and contact with people different people, rather than having to conform a colloquial, secluded way of living, that drives facilitates her madness. Since she inhabits a place against her will, we are encouraged to pity her for where she is forced to live.
Therese’s childhood friend, Anne, is depicted as another source of reason to pity Therese. Anne is presented to us as an amiable but naïve girl. Educated in a convent, she appears ignorant and slightly unworldly, and the more intelligent Therese is privy to her narrow-minded outlook on life. As a result, Anne falls wildly in love with a Jean Azavedo, who merely regards her as a ‘fling’. Yet, it appears that Therese is desperately jealous of Anne’s happiness: “Pourquoi aurait-elle eu pitie? Qu’il doit etre doux de repeter un nom, un prenom qui designe un certain etre auquel on est lie par le coeur respire!” (“Why would she have pity? It must be sweet to repeat a name, a name that designates a certain being to whom we are bound by the breathing heart!”) It is often perceived that Therese does not show a lot of emotion, yet here we see she is a sentimental human being and does want to feel cared for and experience happiness like Anne does. Her melancholy and desire for love is epitomised through the quote “Elle ne se ressemblait pas, c’etait une autre personne…” (“she did not resemble herself, it was a different person”) which evokes pity from us as she evidently feels disregarded and as a result is different.
Therese, despite her crimes, is portrayed as a pitiable character due to the way she is isolated. She is alienated not simply by her setting but by the people around her, and disregarded by her husband. Ultimately, this combination of factors leaves her as an emotionally lost, love-bereft woman, jealous of even her closest friends and their happiness.
Considering Thérèse as a Criminal
Whether Mauriac presents Therese Desqueroux to the reader as a criminal, must provoke the exploration of whether she is responsible, both morally and self-consciously, for her actions in committing that crime. There are instances in the novel, not just associated with Therese, where we see characters who do have control over their actions or at least claim that every action derives from a reason, like Bernard, and those instances where it is implied, and the reader is led to infer, that Therese is lost and ambivalent as to why she attempted to poison Bernard.
On the one hand, Therese is surrounded by Bernard, who is conditioned by his setting and class to believing there are rigid ways of living and thinking, and who, because of this, believes everyone should easily explain their actions, and thus Therese should simply confess her reasoning, and live as a criminal. On top of this, Therese is perceived as at times appearing cruel to Bernard, calculating, and fascinated with the poisoning. However, Therese is perhaps presented as pitiable and innocent when she cannot find a reason for her actions, proving herself to be a complicated character amidst simplistic Bourgeois society, in which she is merely subject to a series of random events.
Therese could be considered as a criminal due to the contrast other characters make with her concerning the way in which she views self-understanding and autonomy. Bernard, in particular, believes that everything that happens is linked with the person who committed that action, and thus people must have motives. He comments that “on n’est jamais malheureux que par sa faute” (“one is never unhappy except by one’s own fault”) when referencing the reason as to why Therese and Bernard married; he believes that because of certain factors, in this case their wealth and pines, means that the resultant action happened. Thus this angles towards the concept that Therese must have a malicious reason for her actions against Therese, rendering her a criminal. Bernard also always acts impulsively and finds a quick cause of action knowing that the reason for his perhaps dubiously moral and antagonistic acts, are always focussed on the interest of maintaining an image, like when he says “il sait toujours, en toute circonstance, ce qu’il convient de faire dans l’interet de la famille” (“he always knows, in all circumstances, what should be done in the interest of the family “) after he abuses Anne and locks her away for having a fleeting relationship with Jean Azevedo. Here, we see Bernard, much like Therese, showing hostility, yet knowing a reason for it and thus condoning the perspective of Therese as a criminal since she must have a motive. Interestingly, the existentialist-esque Jean Azevedo supports this concept of ‘explanation for action’ with his philosophy of life which is “chaque minute doit apporter sa joie” (“each minute must bring one’s joy”). The fact that Jean does everything which the desired outcome to be joy and happiness for example when he seeks the transient relationship with Anne for pleasure, like how Bernard has it for protection of his family honor, surely condemns Therese even more as a criminal as she struggles to even come up with a reason for her acts. Whereas Jean and Bernard have reasons for their actions in life which might exonerate perhaps immoral or promiscuous behavior, Therese is left with the void of an inability to explain herself.
Equally, Therese is portrayed as having a fascination with the concept of poisoning her husband, as well as being presented as a woman of intelligence, with a calculating nature, which could lead towards the idea of a cognitive, measured approach to the poisoning of Bernard. Indeed, when she first sees Bernard accidentally put too many arsenic drops in his water on the day of the forest fire, she then continues to add them for him and describes it as a “tentation horrible” (“Horrible temptation”), which presents the reader with a psychopathic sense of addiction and allure which helps present Therese in a bad light as criminal. Mauriac writes that “l’intelligence de Thérèse était fameuse” (“the intelligence of Therese was famous”) and Bernard feels threatened that his future wife will be more intelligent than him, and this constructs the depiction of her as being situationally calculating and conceptually curious; perhaps a reason for her poisoning? She mocks Bernard, showing a cruelness and an underlying side of hatred in her, when he worries about his health due to the history his family has, “mais il n’est pas malade: on prend seulement des précautions, à cause dès malheurs qu’il y a eu dans sa famille” (“but he is not ill: we are only taking precautions because of the illnesses that there were in his family”), and this playing on his hypochondria could mean that she is perceived as being unsympathetic, and worthy of being condemned.
Yet, we must not forget that Mauriac depicts Therese as a woman with different objectives in life to those of the people who she is surrounded by and the society within which she lives, and therefore can a woman, out of place, condemned to life of monotony and indifference, be found culpable for the actions which perhaps the condition of her setting and the people she is amongst have forced her to do? Mauriac in his epigraph indicates that Therese is very different to normal humans and the way they approach life, “Seigneur, ayez pitié, ayez pitié des fous et des folles!” (“Lord, have mercy, have pity on madmen and fools”) , and this, taken from a Baudelaire poem, highlights a sense of the reader needing to forgive and pity a woman for her actions and not condemn them just because she contests the expectations made of women. Mauriac also references “Sainte Locuste” (“Saint Locust”) a woman who was a renowned poisoner in Nero’s court, yet was made a Sainte, highlighting Mauriac’s own sentimentalities that although Therese committed the act of poisoning, she should not be condemned as she did it out of her differences to the community, as she is arguably not socially engineered like when she shows a lack of interest in wanting to build a bond with her baby, and it is her differences that we should celebrate.
She implicitly shows these differences to societal form when, towards the end of the novel in Paris, Bernard asks her to confess to the reason as to why she poisoned him since he believes “naturellement a cause des pins” (“naturally because of the pines”) in his rigid, customary thought process, and she replies, “Un homme comme vous, Bernard, connaît toujours toutes les raisons de ses actes” (“A man like you, Bernard, always knows all the reasons for his actions”) which has the connotation of him blindly conforming to the prescribed precepts, and only Therese can see that this is all the Bourgeois society in Argelouse do. This recognition of the differences and the resultant dissociation strengthens the argument that she could be aquitted as a criminal as she poisoned Bernard as she felt entrapped within a society and a place which she is adverse to. Her description of Bernard as a simplistic man (“la race implacable des simples” (“the relentless race of simple beings”)) further develops our sense that she is distant in character and intelligence, which could lead us to exonerating her as a criminal as we sympathize with her desire to escape the consecrated, life-time incarceration in Argelouse, to the liberty of Paris, as she describes it at the end of the novel, “la foule des hommes après la foule des arbres” (“the crowd of men after the crowd of trees”). Indeed the reclusive, restrictive surroundings of Argelouse might help exonerate her from her criminality, since she despises the fact that “Argelouse est réellement une extrémité de la terre” (“Argelouse really is an extremity of the earth”), and the symbol of the pines come to stand as the bars for her prison. Indeed, when it rains, the droplets resemble “ses millions de barreaux mouvants” (“millions of moving bars”), and all her surroundings come to stand for something she wishes to flee from; that brings on her melancholy. Therese falls victim arguably to the representation as a passive agent, subject to a series of random circumstances for which she cannot be blamed, like when on the day of the forest fire, tempers and stress levels are high with Bernard, and “Elle ne se souvient d’aucun incident, d’aucune dispute” (“She does not remember any incident, any dispute”) as if there was no particular reason for her to start poisoning Bernard, but that it was a series of providential moments out of her control which lead to it.
Furthermore, the fact that Therese, on several occasions, attempts to formulate a reason as to why she poisoned Bernard, yet finds nothing tangible or even convincing, perhaps makes her appear more pitiable as a lost figure and thus less villainous as she meant no malice or vindictive outcome. When she is on her way back from the trial and thinks about what she will to say to Bernard, she thinks “rien a dire pour sa defense” (“nothing to say for her defense”) as if to reveal the fact she has no motive, thus strangely rendering her innocent. Mauriac presents the crime of poisoning Bernard as almost innate within Therese, when, sitting at a hot lunch, he comments “l’acte qui…était déjà en elle à son insu” (“The act that … was already in her without her knowledge”), to convey the feeling that it is an inescapable, irreversible part of her that she has to accept, yet perhaps fails to acknowledge, which leads her to the conclusion that “Moi, je ne connais pas mes crimes” (“Me, I did not understand my crimes”).
The fact that Therese committed the poisoning is certain, but the way she is presented to us as a criminal, as to whether she should be pitied or despised, is at times ambiguous. The tone of Mauriac persuades us to acknowledge her as a pitiable figure, who perhaps is more innocent and less of a criminal, who seeks implicitly the idea of redemption, like when she says she might have gone back with Bernard if he had forgiven her. Indeed, we see her manipulative, calculating intelligence at work, and her mockery of her husband, yet we see far more brutal actions from the Bourgeois conformist Bernard, which are arguably more criminal. And thus it is the crux of the argument that Therese is a woman of a different breed to the society she is suffocated by: she has different interests, a higher intellectual ability, and a curiosity to explore unknown paths. I feel it is this that ultimately renders her act as a mistake rather than a crime, as it was due to something innate within her, a desire to explore, which the others do not possess, yet neither she nor Argelouse recognize as the reason for her acts which is the greater tragedy.