Femmes Fatales in European Romanticism

(3430 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Throughout the literary history of the Western traditions the most enduring heroines either fit in the angelic mold of the innocent girl or its counterpart of the more spectacular devilish provenance, with the innocuous married woman relegated to the sidelines unless a catastrophe occurs (ancient example: Clytemnestra; for famous protagonists in nineteenth-century novels see Theodor Fontane, Effi Briest; Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina). The paradigmatic figures at the end of the extremes are Mary and Eve. Mary morphed into the madonna angelicata (angel-like Madonna) of the Italian school of poetry, of Dante’s Beatrice and the French troubadours, whereas Eve – incarnation of evil passion, temptation of man, and the …

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Hoffmeister, Gerhart. "Femmes Fatales in European Romanticism". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 January 2011
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=14897, accessed 01 July 2015.]

Related Groups

  1. Comparative Literature, Reception, Influences
  2. European Romanticism