The education of girls in nineteenth-century French literature: mother-daughter relations and portrayals of identity in George Sand and Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis examines the relationships between mothers and daughters against the background of education in early nineteenth-century France. This era was the first time that a large population of French girls was separated from their mothers. Because of their attendance at school, girls created an identity separate from that of the one that their mothers had helped them to create. By using George Sand’s autobiography Histoire de ma vie and Marceline Desbordes-Valmore’s poem “Ondine à l’ecole,” the process of distinguishing the daughter from the mother has been analyzed from both the mother’s perspective and the daughter’s perspective. For Sand, who writes from the daughter’s perspective, her maternal figures (mother and grandmother) push her away from them so that she could get an education. As a result of being pushed away, she is ‘forced’ to create her own identity. For Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, the opposite occurs. Writing from the mother’s perspective, she becomes very protective of her daughter and seems threatened by Ondine’s success at school through which she creates a distinct identity away from Desbordes-Valmore. By studying these two works together, one can learn about the mother-daughter dynamics at work and the emotional hardships suffered by both mothers and daughters, as girls began school during this era. Both mother and daughter experienced a feeling of loss, and relationships were permanently changed as daughters created unique identities for themselves.
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Thomas, Christina Grace, "The education of girls in nineteenth-century French literature: mother-daughter relations and portrayals of identity in George Sand and Marceline Desbordes-Valmore" (2006). LSU Master's Theses. 4053.
Katharine Ann Jensen