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'In Stendhal's novels there is no difference between the voice of the characters and the voice of the narrator, since both are equally unreliable and prone to error.' Discuss in reference to Le Rouge et le Noir.

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'In Stendhal's novels there is no difference between the voice of the characters and the voice of the narrator, since both are equally unreliable and prone to error.' Discuss in reference to Le Rouge et le Noir. The voice of the narrator threatens efforts to construct a coherent interpretation of the novel. This is demonstrated before Julie Sorel's end, where we are informed by the narrator that "Jamais cette t�te n'avait �t� aussi po�tique qu'au moment o� elle aller tomber." The narrator fails to continue the description of this scene, as in the next sentence it is all over, and the narrator has switched to commenting on the way in which Julien's head had fallen off. It is the missing link between each of these sentences, that the climatic moment of decapitation is absent. The narrator fails to describe the bloody moment, and there is a feeling of anti-climax that is typical of Stendhal and his works. The narrator, typically cross-cutting from perceptions of one character to those of another tells us that Mme R�nal's love for Julien gives her spirit to perform what she believes to be an act of self-sacrifice, since she assumes the portrait must be of the women that Julien loves. ...read more.


The plotted narrative is a deviance from our transgression of the normal, a state of abnormality and error, which alone is narratable. Narrative instability is demonstrated with the figure of the monster, a figure of transgression, desire, deviance and instability that is the figure of Julien's project. The monster has the conjoined figure of politics as plot and plot as politics. The plot itself, narrative design and intention is the figure of displacement, which eventually leads to a change of position. Julien is the observer whose presence authenticates the narrative, but the observer is also being observed. There are recurrent reminders of Julien's inadequacy, his prejudices and the limits of his comprehension However varied and fluid this shifting of narrative angle may be, it does reveal a dominant pattern. During the beginning of the book, the author appears as a stranger observing forms of politeness and modesty, yet by the end he has become an acquaintance and is no longer upholding such formalities. Neither Stendhal nor the narrator so overtly appears to stage-manage events; Julien's fatal act indeed inaugurates a period of diminished narratorial intervention. One cannot get around the problem or the effect by claiming that Julien's narrative fills in the details that are torn off from the newspaper story, which provides us with a fuller motivation for crime and execution. ...read more.


It also demonstrates a slight ignorance to his character, which is a flaw when acting as the narrative voice. I have discussed at length the character of Julien Sorel and his chracter's voice, but there are two more central characters to this novel and they are Madame de R�nal and Mathilde. Mme R�nal has by far the fewest interior monologues, out of the three central characters. Although this does not denounce her as a less important character than the other two but simply means that there is no need for Stendhal to portray her thoughts because they are expressed in her every action. It is her straightforward character that shows that she has nothing to hide, and is therefore a much more reliable character than that of Julien. It is perhaps Julien himself that proves to be her downfall, and in entering a relationship with him it proves to be the beginning of her end. Conclusion Stendhal presents characters thoughts from different perspectives, moving flexibly from one to another, often without transition. The most distinctive method Stendhal uses is to present the characters thoughts more directly, as a form of inner speech, known as the interior monologue. ...read more.

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