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Journal Article

Marivaux's Comedy of Loss: "La Double Inconstance"

Thomas M. Carr, Jr.
The French Review
Vol. 75, No. 5 (Apr., 2002), pp. 903-912
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3133434
Page Count: 10

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Topics: Sympathy, Love, Theater, Comic theater, Grief, Vanity, Emotional expression, Emotional distress, Stoicism, Sadness
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Marivaux's Comedy of Loss: "La Double Inconstance"
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Abstract

One of Marivaux's favorite plays is a tour de force that portrays the loss of love as comic. After showing the importance of sympathy in his notion of consolation, the article analyzes the action as a form of grief work through which Silvia accepts her new role. The techniques by which Marivaux turns loss into comedy are then discussed: he allows the audience to foresee well in advance that the characters will find new loves; the suffering they display is not only exaggerated but undercut by their vanity. Most important, their grieving of old loves and sympathy for the suffering of both their old and new partners are key factors in the construction of the new loves that triumph at the denouement.

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