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[Best Literary Work] La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias) – Alexandre Dumas, fils


La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias) – Alexandre Dumas, fils

Trà Hoa Nữ – Alexandre Dumas con

Một tác phẩm đã đọc từ rất lâu, và được gợi lại khi phải viết một bài luận về một thành tựu của nền văn minh phương Tây cho môn Western Civilization của mình trong năm qua 🙂

Ban đầu dự định viết về La Bicyclette Bleue (Chiếc xe đạp màu xanh) của Resgine Deforges nhưng tác phẩm ấy dù rất hay nhưng được viết vào thế kỉ 20 nên hơi khó đánh giá một chút. Và cuối cùng đã nhớ ra ngày xưa cấp 3 đã đọc và ấn tượng sâu sắc với tác phẩm cổ diển là Trà Hoa Nữ (thêm cả Con Hủi nữa), hơn nữa tác phẩm này được đánh giá là một trong những tác phẩm ảnh hưởng đến thời đại nên….

Vì là bài luận đã dành hết tâm huyết nhớ lại chút cảm xúc còn sót lại từ xa xôi nên mình giữ nguyên phiên bản tiếng Anh đã viết, vì cũng chẳng biết diễn giải lại như thế nào ^^

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Women are always a popular topic for many authors because of their beauty and their unhappy destiny in life. La Dame aux Camélias (The Lady of the Camellias) is one of the most excellent novels all time, which has inspired humanity in readers from generation to generation. The romantic novel The Lady of the Camellias, more popularly known as Camille, is written by Alexandre Dumas, fils and fist published in 1848 (Wikipedia). It has also converted into a lot of different versions such as play, opera, film and ballet.

Alexandre Dumas, fils (1824 – 1895) was a famous French author and dramatist. He was the son of a writer and playwright Alexandre Dumas, père (1802 – 1870) and his mistress, a dressmaker Marie Laure Catherine Labay (1794 – 1968). The Lady of the Camellias was his first novel, which was written at the age of 24, confirmed his great talent and brought brilliant glory to him.

The theme of Camellias is a love story between Marguerite Gautier, a ravishing courtesan in Paris, and a young provincial bourgeois, Armand Duval. “Marguerite Gautier is inspired by the French courtesan Marie Duplessis, whom Dumas fils met in 1844 and had a short-lived affair with.” (C. D. Merriman, 2008). Though the love of Marguerite and Armand is really sincere, deep and selfless, it has a tragic ending because of society’s strict standards. Because of her love with Armand, Marguerite sacrifices her wealth and her free lifestyle to live with him in the countryside; and because of his future as well as his younger sister’s happiness, she accepts his father’s recommend to leave him and die alone with her broken heart and regret for not seeing Armand at the end of her life.

The author said in the beginning of the novel,
“It is impossible to create characters until one has spent a long time in studying men, as it is impossible to speak a language until it has been seriously acquired.”
Therefore, when writing about the character Marguerite Gautier, Alexandre Dumas fils used the beautiful words to describe her attractive but innocent beauty of a famous courtesan, who is called “the Lady of Camellias”. Behind Marguerite’s charm are an incisive mind and an unexpected deep love for her lover, Armand Duval. Perhaps, as he has natural sensitivity and pity for the wretched women which experienced from the life of his mother and his lover – two women have the same name Marie, Dumas created a tragic life for Marguerite Gautier with a beautiful and also tearful lifelong love story.

The story cannot be an original one but it is still a touching and passionate story about love, loss, jealousy and great sacrifice. Both Marguerite and Armand are ready to devote their life for each other. Their love is energetic but it is not strong enough to fight against the hypocritical French society in the 19th century when the nobility considers their sincere love to be guilty and shameful. Thus, although Armand accepted Marguerite’s past, the society refused to accept her change to become an ordinary woman instead of a well-known courtesan. To protect her lover’s promising future and his younger sister’s happiness; she accepted to leave him and did not tell him the real reason for this. Because of the misunderstanding between them, Armand offended Marguerite very much and both she as well as he was very deeply hurt for that. Finally, Marguerite died of tuberculosis in the poorness and loneliness.

When Marguerite was suffering from the tuberculosis and Armand’s cold behavior, Armand did not know her condition and behave towards her in a cruel way and without pity. His action makes readers disappointed, angry and also sympathetic to him. As he thought that her heart changed, she left him for another man. The feeling of jealousy and betrayal makes him not control his action. After her death, he eventually found her untold secret through the tearful pages of her diary. In my opinion, the only one thing which Marguerite and Armand could be regretful before her death is Marguerite could not die in the arms of Armand. Even though their love ends up in tragedy, the love will live in their heart and the heart of readers all the time.

The story was started a book entitled “Manon Lescaut” and finished with the death of Marguerite and the secrets were revealed through her diary at the end of life. Twenty-seven chapters do not only tell us about the touching romantic relationship between a beautiful courtesan, Marguerite Gautier and a promising bourgeois, Armand Duval. Furthermore, they are also about the strong sympathy towards the sufferings of people because of social conventions. This humanity makes the book “The Lady of the Camellias” of Alexandre Dumas, fils still alive all times. Since his dedication to French literature, he was admitted to the Académie française (French Academy) in 1874 and was awarded the Légion d’honneur (Legion of Honour) in 1894 (Wikipedia).

Reference

Dumas, A fils 1963, ‘La Dame aux Camélias’, Calmann Lévy, Paris, last viewed July 5 2012.

Dumas, A fils 2009, ‘Chapter 1’, Camille (La Dame aux Camélias), PublicBookshelf Corporation, last viewed July 5 2012.

Merriman, C.D. 2008, ‘Alexandre Dumas fils’, Jalic Inc, last viewed July 5 2012.

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