Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Isotti, Laura Cristina, «La dualité des figures utopiques dans Paul et Virginie», London, University of Western Ontario, thèse de doctorat, 2000, vi/297 p. Ill. Dir. : Daniel Vaillancourt et Christine Roulston.

This thesis entails an in depth analysis of utopic figures in Bernardin de Saint-Pierre’s Paul et Virginie. Upon a closer study of the narration, Bernardin demonstrates an obsessive tendency to recreate an idyllic state on two different levels. In fact, the approach which marries archetypal criticism, symbolism, metaphor and a version of psychoanalysis, allows for a double reading of the novel. By going beyond the literal, the symbolic realm unveils two categories of descriptive elements. First, a maternal metaphor with a dual “personality” which cripples the “petite société” from the very beginning, and second, a linear biblical structure, from the representations of Eden to the Apocalypse, which brings the utopia to a close. Their dualities do not serve as a simplistic form of embellishment. On the contrary, it allows for the detection of the underlying ambiguities which reside within the concept of utopia itself, and exposes Bernardin’s controversial personal philosophy. The conclusion suggests the only paradise possible is in the vague yet eternalized existence of the after life which derives from the Christian model.

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