Category Archives: Week 4: Rachilde’s Monsieur Venus

Lost in Translation: “tu” vs. “vous”

The detailed illustrations of the decadent scenes in Monsieur Venus seem to be vividly translated between French and English. The language used in our edition seems as poetic as I imagine the passages would be in the original French. As with any work in translation, however, there are certain aspects of Rachilde’s story that cannot be explored as thoroughly in our language as in the original. In Monsieur Venus, the subtle alterations of the French pronouns (particularly “tu” and “vous”) do not carry over into our English copies. Luckily for us, the thorough footnotes in Melanie Hawthorne’s translation of the novel give her readers some insight to the thematic significance of the pronouns used throughout the text.

The pronouns begin flipping between the formal and informal “you” in Chapter Three. In this chapter, the reader witnesses Raoule fighting with herself to figure out how to shape her relationship with Jacques. As she pulls aside the curtain to reveal him bathing, she cries “Child, do you know that you are marvelous?” (42), and uses the “tu” form for the first time. This is appropriate, as noted by the footnote, considering that she is addressing him as a child, but it is even more so interesting that Raoule continues to address Jacques in this informal register for the remainder of the chapter. The language she uses degrades Jacques status and serves as a reminder that the characters are of very different social classes, which relates to their status within their intimate relationship as well. Raoule is able to dominate Jacques because plays the power-hungry masculine role in their intimate relationship and also holds more social power in their public relations.

The “you” pronoun is later used to characterize Raoule and Raittolbe as members of a higher social class when they respectfully address each other in the “vous” form in Chapter Four, which Hawthorne notes is a stark contrast to the relationship between Raoule and Jacques. Jacques would not dare use the “tu” form with Raoule throughout the beginning of the book and all the way until the end of Chapter Four. This is significant because Rachilde develops a complex relationship triangle between the characters of Raoule, Raittolbe, and Jacques, and the “you” form reveals the variations of class and levels of intimacy between the three characters. In Chapter Six, the simple “tu” pronoun is extremely significant because the informality with which Raoule addresses Jacques in front of Raittolbe unintentionally indicates to Raittolbe that the other two characters are sexually intimate.

There are many other examples of “tu” and “vous” indicating the transgression of class lines and degrees of intimacy throughout the novel. Just to mention a few more significant passages, at the end of Chapter Nine during Raittolbe’s moment of homosexual panic, he insults Jacques as a “scoundrel” using the “tu” form. This word choice emphasizes Raittolbe’s ability to degrade the value of Jacque’s social status due to his belonging to a higher class. In Chapter 10, Marie reveals that she has an intimate relationship with Raittolbe by addressing him in the “tu” form, which is also significant since she belongs to the same class as her brother, Jacques, yet can use this informal register to address someone from a higher class. In Chapter 14, Raoule’s aunt distances herself from Raoule by addressing the character in the “vous” form instead of the more familial, informal way. Also, throughout the duel scene near the end of the story, Raittolbe and Raoule alternate between using the “tu” and the “vous” forms to emphasize the variations between their personal relationship and their relationship to their society as indicated by social class.

In all of these examples, Rachilde manipulates the second person pronoun to indicate more than just which character dialogue is targeted towards. The pronoun indicates degrees of intimacy, respect, and status. The extent to which the meaning of “you” alters throughout the book nearly makes it feel like a homophone/homograph. The variations of the pronoun are easily recognizable in the French edition, but without the footnotes would be devoid of meaning in the English translation. This is somewhat worrisome because the variation of the pronouns in Rachilde’s story serves as a useful strategy to develop the theme of transgressing not only gender lines, but also social classes in Monseiur Venus. If we are to lose the nuanced tension between characters that is so integral to the central themes of the story in our translation, what else might be lacking in a translated addition? What is the significance of pronouns in our own language—how does English similarly indicate boundaries of social class through the connotation of common words? How deliberate was Rachilde’s decision to flip back and forth between the “tu” and “vous” forms? What is the significance of grammatical and connotative discrepancies with any work in translation? While I don’t think any of these questions are easily answered, they are interesting and important inquiries to consider. In any case, while we may not have been able to read Monseir Venus in the original French, our class is lucky to have had access to such deliberate footnotes that help to uncover what would have otherwise been lost in translation.




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A Materialist Novel

A materialist novel.  The subtitle to this story might seem unnecessary yet it explains some of the motivations of the characters.  My experience reading left me unsatisfied because I could not connect with the characters in the novel.  I kept wondering how someone who claimed to love another person so dearly could behave in such a hideous way towards that person.  Then I realized it is because this novel is not about the love which these two people say they are experiencing, it is about the physicality of the love, the physical material that is driving this emotion.  Raoulle throughout the entire book claims she loves Jacques.  She explains to Raittolbe that she is not a woman in love with a woman but a man in love with a man.  She again explains to him that she always loves without resisting.  He claims that this is in fact love.  Yet, love as so many other stories have taught us would not have ones lover killed out of jealousy.  The love that Rachilde is presenting us with, however, is not an emotional love; it is a love of the physical and material.

Similarly, Jacques shows love for the physical and not necessarily the emotional.  ‘“Raoule,’ cried Jacques, his face convulsed his teeth biting into his lips, his arms extended as if he had just been crucified in a spasm of pleasure.  ‘Raoule, you just aren’t a man! You just can’t be a man!’ And the sob of illusion, forever dead, rose from his sides to his throat.  For Raoule had undone her white silk waistcoat and, in order to feel the beating of Jacques heart better she had pressed one of her naked breasts against him” (pg 183).  In this scene we see that Jacques in fact desires the physicality of this relationship more than the emotional side of it.  While Raoule can “act like a man” and Jacque “behave like a woman”, the reason this relationship cannot be entirely fulfilled is because of the emphasis on the material.  Neither Jacques nor Raoule value the emotional nearly as much and thus the relationship is doomed to fail at least in its current state.

At the end of the novel, however, we see a Raoule, which might in fact be happier with the final arrangement than she was during the time Jacque was alive.  She gets to enjoy the physicality of this relationship the thing that she in fact loved.  She actually acknowledged this during one of her interactions with her aunt.  Raoule states after her aunt curses her “Dear Aunt, happiness becomes more real the more it’s insane.  If Jacques doesn’t waken from the sensual sleep that I’ve insinuated in his obedient limbs, I’ll be happy despite your curse”(pg 175).  While in the end she did mourn for a short period we can extrapolate that she was happy with the outcome of her relationship.  She was able to have a very obedient and dead Jacques to serve her own pleasure, her own physical, material pleasure.  In fact, while she was not able to ever become a “full man” due to the lack of a material penis, she was able to make Jacques a “complete woman”.  She was able to keep her object of desire and pleasure without having to share it with anyone.  This shows us that this novel is actually not preoccupied with the emotional definition of love but the material and physical forms of love.  Rachilde thus presents us with characters whose emotions the reader cannot connect with because the emotion is not the aim the feelings are the not the aim.  The physical is what is important.

-Basil Hallward

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Raoule de Frank-N-Furter? Rachilde and Rocky Horror

Dorian Gray had a little yellow book.

I had The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

The cult classic’s plot is as familiar as it is overwrought: Dr. Frank-N-Furter, a transvestite from the planet Transylvania, creates his perfect man, Rocky, and seduces and corrupts two kids on a night out, Brad and Janet, in an orgiastic night at his castle. The movie, which came out in 1975, has an essence that mirrors in many ways the decadent mindset of Oscar Wilde or Rachilde. The similarities between Rocky Horror and Monsieur Vénus helped me draw new connections to Rachilde’s text regarding the relationships between desire and science and between private and public vice.

Both Rocky Horror and the ending of Monsieur Vénus make a connection between the construction of the perfect sex object and the idea of scientific progress. In class we discussed thematic similarities between the construction of a transgender (or simply atypically gendered) body and the creation of the Frankenstein monster. Raoule’s loving—if disturbing—shrine to Jacques, his own body parts attached to a dummy similar to the anatomical Vénus models used for medicine, and necrophilia suggests that she has conquered death (as did Dr. Frankenstein) through science, clearing all boundaries between her and her “perverted” sexual desires. Dr. Frank-N-Furter in Rocky Horror accomplishes a similar task with Rocky, in a campy send-up of the Frankenstein story. He lists Rocky’s purpose as relieving his sexual tension and announces his discovery as “the secret to life itself.” For stories that otherwise eschew reason for decadence both of these texts actually do rely, in the end, on the rationalism (if in a much campier and much less well-tested sense) of science and invention, or at least on the enthusiasm of that mode of thought. They link these visions of boundless scientific progress with sexual corruption, connecting two instances of expanding knowledge in order to fetishize the act of invention while inventing new fetishes.

Another shared thematic concern is the navigation of private and public vice. In Monsieur Vénus Raoule and Jacques’ relationship is kept private and sacred in certain respects. The special cloistered Temple of Love she builds, for example, and the subtle, secretive ways they discuss their relationship with others shows a need to protect and hide, to some extent, their lifestyle. At the same time, the scandal the couple causes is part of the fun, and their public appearances together as well as their atypical gender presentations reveal to the public that something is different about them. Similarly in Rocky Horror Frank made Rocky as his personal sex object. Rocky and Frank, like Raoule and Jacques, also have their own bridal suite. Also, Frank’s seduction of Brad and Janet is done under at least the pretense of secrecy (though both find out about the other quickly enough). At the same time, Frank invited dozens of Transylvanians to witness his creation of Rocky, and he ultimately prefers the visible conversions of Brad and Janet into seekers of absolute pleasure to their clandestine seductions. This double-vision of private vice and public scandal links both texts. They reveal “perverted” relationships that are hidden yet invite viewers. And the stories themselves encourage voyeurism in a scandalous and tantalizing way, inviting their readers/viewers to join in with the public keeping track of such vice and granting them a privileged look into the unimaginably scandalous private lives of others.

An element of this voyeurism is the power of the text to corrupt those who encounter it. Brad and Janet’s speedy conversion from squeaky clean fiancés into hedonistic cross-dressers has a disastrous end suggesting the dangers of such a lifestyle, and Dr. Scott (their high school science teacher, who also winds up at the castle) even declares, “We’ve gotta get out of this trap before this decadence saps our will…” Rachilde’s preface achieves a similar goal. This threat of the transformation of normal society is perhaps what increases the appeal of such cultural products. They seem so removed from our lives and yet so capable of corrupting and changing them. That decadent narratives in the 1890s and 1970s could shock and amuse their very different audiences with their vices and fetishes suggests an allure of this kind of story (or a weakness of its audiences) that can still inspire a search for and a fear of absolute pleasure.


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Strict Gender Roles and Misogynistic, Monsieur Vénus

Rachilde’s Monsieur Vénus is a progressive work for the time period in which it was published—late 19th century. Through its depiction of what was considered to be scandalous behavior (cross dressing, transgender behavior, homosexual acts etc.) however, it played upon gender role stereotypes that when read today act as contradictions to the somewhat forward thinking mindset of the novel as a whole.

In fact, one of the many undercurrents present throughout the story reeks of misogynistic attitudes. There are several example of this mindset present. It is perhaps more appropriate to analyze, first, the ways in which Rachilde uses descriptions to characterize certain genders, and how this characterization relates directly to a negative, generalized attitude towards women.

Rachilde’s main character, Raoule de Vénérande, is a female-bodied individual who prefers male pronouns to represent herself and adapts the characteristics of a man in her mannerisms and day-to-day behaviors—in essence Raoule is a transgender male, thus why Rachilde’s novel was so outrageously shocking at the time of its publishing (it can be argued that it is just as shocking today). The way that Rachilde describes Raoule’s facial features implies the masculine interior that she inhabits, stating that she has a “hard expression,” with “thin lips” that attenuated in a disagreeable way the pure shape of her mouth” (pg. 19). Even Raoule’s aunt classifies her in a different gender category, regarding her niece as a “nephew,” when she “saw her taking fencing or painting lessons” (pg. 28). There are several things to take away from these details, the main one being the association between what is considered to be appropriate for a man (painting and fencing as hobbies). In this way one see what is not considered wholly appropriate for a woman at this time, which will be relevant when describing Jacques.

Jacques Silvert is classified as being Raoule’s mistress. Although he is male, Raoule obviously occupies the male role in the relationship, and molds Jacques to fulfill the subservient obedient female role. Rachilde foreshadows this occurrence in the way that she describes Jacques appearance throughout the novel, especially in the opening chapter:

“Around his body, over his loose smock, ran a spiraling garland of roses, very big roses of fleshy satin with velvety grenadine tracings. They slipped between his legs…came curling around his neck… spray of wallflowers, on his left a tuft of violets.” (Pg. 8)

The precise rhetoric Rachilde chooses carries a significantly feminine sentiment. Most obvious is the choice of flowers that are described as being prominent to the scene, the second is the vocabulary used to describe how they interact with Jacques, slipping between his legs, curling around his neck—it is promiscuous in its wording, and such an adjective is inherently associated with a woman.

It is through Raoule and Jacques’s relationship that the novel conveys a sexist attitude. Their interactions define the notorious male-female dynamic, where the man is supposed to be all powerful and dominant in his portrayal, and the women is compliant, docile, and depicted as being less than intelligent. When Raoule first meets Jacques, he is described as looking at her “the way suffering dogs beg with vaguely glistening eyes” (pg. 11). Merely comparing him to an animal relays a sense of innocence and a childlike demeanor—this in turn relates to the novel’s view of what women are because of Jacque’s association with femininity. His lack of ability to defend himself in situations involving both Raoule and Raittolbe, add onto this stereotype. The underlying theme, through these gender role stereotypes and depictions of women (ie. Marie Silvert) or female acting males (Jacques), consciously oppresses the role of women to that of vial, senseless, dependent individuals.

Although Rachilde upsets the balance of society in her novel with the switching of gender roles in a man and a woman, she resides strictly within those gender roles and thus lends a somewhat dull finish to what could have been an incredibly revolutionary gender ideology.


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Angel in the Marble: Natural vs. Unnatural

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” – Michelangelo

We started off Wednesday’s class with a discussion of society’s fascination with transgender sexuality today and why we thought this fixation exists. I decided to take a broader approach by examining what we see as “human” and why we are sometimes uncomfortable with individuals who don’t conform to our standards of what it means to be human. To begin, I decided to look at society’s historical fascination with creating or recreating life.

Darn it, liver again. Menu never changes!

Prometheus Bound
By Christian Schussele, 1824-1879

The concept of creating life from living or non-living materials first appeared in the stories of Greek mythology dating back to early history of mankind, i.e. the story of Prometheus, and such stories may be considered the first reports presenting the idea that independent life can be generated without sexual reproduction. The Biblical tale of Eve’s emergence from Adam’s rib is a further example of this concept. As humans grew to understand nature more and more, they imagined the artificial generation of living specimens via biological or chemical techniques. These ideas that circulated through society eventually gave rise to literary works such as Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust completed in 1831 and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein published in 1818 (interestingly subtitled The Modern Prometheus). One of the central themes in Faust’s struggle to become all-powerful is the deep desire to create life through various artificial processes, namely alchemy, while Shelley’s novel describes a creature made of reassembled body parts that is brought to life.

What is it that makes us uncomfortable about the changing or recreating of what is “natural”? A conversation at the hairdressers about dying one’s hair doesn’t evoke the same reaction as a debate about organ regeneration and the prolonging human life to an indeterminate point. Taking synthesized drugs to relieve oneself of cold systems doesn’t evoke the same reaction as announcing one’s gender reassignment surgery. What is it about such acts that either makes us turn away without batting an eye or makes us uncomfortable? Perhaps it lays in the permanence of the changes. Artificial hair color is only temporary and one can always revert to one’s natural color. Advil relieves suffering and nurses one back to an original healthy state. However, long-lasting or permanent changes to the natural body grab our attention and make us think. Is there any justification in imposing lasting modifications to our bodies? Let us consider two cases: organ regeneration and gender reassignment.

One of the main aspects of organ and tissue regeneration that makes society uneasy is the potential to extend the human lifespan to an indeterminate amount of time. Some would regard this extension of lifespan to be artificial and not human, which forces us to consider what it means to be human in the first place. Through the course of human history spanning across several different cultures, mortality and an innate sense of dignity seem to be defining features of our humanity. Death is as much a part of humanity as life – a fact that is supported by the wide variety of burial rites and funeral services unique to each religion or culture. To extend the average human life expectancy towards an undefined limit through constant regeneration of the cells would not only cause problems with regards to population density, it would redefine humanity; mortality would no longer be a definitive feature of human life. Furthermore, extending the human lifespan towards a hypothetically unlimited amount of time could blur the line between a hubristic quest for immortality and genuinely compassionate healthcare. The natural human life is finite and to extend it towards infinity would be to tamper with a quality reserved for gods. However, if the purpose of organ regeneration technology is seen as relieving the suffering of people and not necessarily granting virtual immortality, the idea becomes a lot more appealing to the general masses.

Can the same “concessions” be made for gender reassignment and other acts associated with transgender sexuality? If gender reassignment surgeries are seen less as cosmetic procedures and more as procedures to relieve the suffering of people, would that make them more acceptable? It still seems to be a large leap for society to make due to a fascination with people’s presentations of gender and sex – both qualities which we associate with humanity. Perhaps what makes transgender sexuality an uncomfortable idea for some is the ambiguity of the individuals who do not conform to society’s view of gender and sexuality as binaries. Such an ambiguity can be seen as monstrous and deviating from the norms and standards of what it means to be human. Like Frankenstein and Faust, trans* people are seen as dabbling with a power that should not be left to human control: the creation or modification of natural life. This offers another interpretation of the typical decadent theme of the union of the sacred and the profane; life the way God intended is sacred and any attempt to change or recreate it is profane. However, the transformations of Raoule and Jacques – or any transgender individuals for that matter – can also be seen as a chipping away of the marble to reveal the natural form of the sculpture already existing within the stone.


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Raoule as Artist: Gender and Power through Art in Monsieur Venus

In Rachilde’s Monsieur Vénus, the concepts of the “artist” and of “art” are intertwined with those of “man” and “woman,” and serve to help Rachilde characterize the power relationship that exists between the genders. In Monsieur Vénus, artists are seen to hold three types of power over their art: they create it and are able to shape it and mold it into their ideal, they own and possess it, and they are able to destroy it. Raoule’s desire to obtain these three sources of power over Jacques, which are also portrayed as typical of a man’s relationship with a woman, forms the backbone of the novel. The question of whether she is successful or unsuccessful is the final mystery of the novel.

In the opening scene, the reversal of the traditional roles of artist and art are made clear when Raoule comments that painting for Jacques is “a strange profession…because you really ought to be a stone breaker, it would be more natural” (16). She later comments that “I can sketch a presentable nude in the time it takes you to throw together a peony” (36). Raoule’s skill at painting and fencing are portrayed as markers of her masculinity–while Jacques’s lack of talent in both reveals his femininity. That art, masculinity and privilege are intertwined is shown through the character of Martin Durand, who Jacques notices ” was happy, he earned his living by fighting with stone….Nobility, love, money, everything would flow his way, at a sign from him, because he was a man” (146). Power is derived from being the creator rather than the created. But when Raoule comments that it would be more “natural” for Jacques to be the subject rather than the artist, she is asking us to question whether such stereotypes of gender differences are inherent or imposed by society, and whether they can be bent and overcome or whether they are fundamentally tied to one’s sex and physique.  

Though she claims to be a skilled painter, Raoule’s art in the novel does not consist of sketching presentable nudes. Rather, it is manifested in the “creation” of a feminine Jacques, through the shaping and conquering of his body and mind. The process of this transformation is portrayed as meticulous and careful on Raoule’s part: with Jacques reading “all kinds of books, science or literature pell-mell, whatever Raoule furnished him to keep his primitive mind under her spell” (93) and eventually “catching himself being a woman for the pleasure of art” (94). Here we are reminded of Dorian Gray, whose transformation into a piece of art took much the same path, and the “yellow book.” The S&M undertones can be attributed to the decadent desire for intense feeling, whether it be ecstasy or pain, and the use of objects to create that feeling.

Though Raoule clearly tries to treat Jacques as an “object” in this way, as “her thing, a sort of lifeless object who let himself be loved, because his own love was powerless” (93), it is questionable whether or not she ever truly owns him in the way that man can own woman in Rachilde’s eyes. In Chapter 7, Rachilde writes that, “man possesses, woman submits” (90) and in Chapter 9, that “in love all women are linked by the same chain…The honest wife, when she gives herself to her legal husband, is in the same position as the prostitute when she gives herself to her lover” (107). And by the end of the novel, Raoule has remained faithful to Jacques while he was unfaithful to her. She is unable to possess Jacques after he realizes that Raoule can never “be a man.”

The novel concludes with the death of Jacques, and the creation of a wax figure in his place. Destruction is ultimately the only way for Raoule to truly possess Jacques. The ending seems somewhat triumphant for Raoule, but it also seems that in death, Jacques has escaped her, leaving her only with his external features and memory. It thus ultimately seems to me that despite seeming to argue for the fluidity of gender boundaries, that in its ending Monsieur Vénus supports the idea that there are some differences between men and women, like those between artist and art, that cannot be crossed.  


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Monsieur Venus: Is This Feminist?!

Monsieur Venus–Is this feminist?!

During class, the question of “Is Monsieur Venus feminist/progressive/queer?” was brought up and it reminded me of the following blog:

The blog parodies the often hypercritical environment of feminism in academia. Before I begin my own criticism of Monsieur Venus and how it’s not feminist, I wanted to note that while my criticism of the novel below is harsh, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the novel, as a novel. I believe that the text is best understood as entertainment, and should not be appropriated as some radical feminist or queer agenda or ideology.

I believe that Monsieur Venus is not feminist/queer for three main reasons: the novel relies more on the gender binary than it challenges it, the novel is written in a voyeuristic manner which fuels the excitement/appeal of the story, and the story stigmatizes gender-nonconforming individuals.

1) The novel relies more on the gender binary than it challenges it

Monsiuer Venus could easily be read as a progressive message on gender and sexuality because of the gender-bending protagonist, Raoule. However, gender-bending alone is not inherently progressive. Furthermore, while Rachilde certainly challenges gender norms, she ultimately perpetuates them. For example, in the following passage:

“A strange life began for Raoule de Venerande, starting with the fatal moment when Jacques Silvert gave up his power as a man in love and become her thing, a sort of lifeless object who let himself be loved, because his own love was powerless. For Jacques loved Raoule with a real woman’s heart. He loved her out of gratitude, out of submission, out of a latent desire for unknown pleasures…” (pg. 92-93)

Rachilde draws a nexus between “power” and “masculinity” and “submission” and “femininity.” In other words, she uses masculinity as a synonym for power and femininity as a synonym for powerlessness. This passage suggests that in every relationship, the more masculine individual has power over the more feminine individual. Thus, even though Raole is biologically female but is effectively the “male” in the relationship, this gender-bending is far from progressive and actually is just reinforcing and perpetuating unfortunate societal understandings of gender.

2) The novel is written in a voyeuristic manner which fuels the excitement/appeal of the novel

Monsiuer Venus is such a fascinating and engaging read because it titillates our enjoyment of voyeurism, scopophilia and fetishism. Rachilde’s use of the third person perspective amplifies the voyeuristic nature of the novel by encouraging the reader to look onto the characters as some spectacle. If Rachilde has used a different point of view that let the viewer see from the perspective of say, Raoule, I think the novel would have been more feminist because this would allow the reader to engage and empathize with Raoule rather than simply watch her.

Furthermore, like Marie Silvert listening through the hole between her wall and her brother’s, we are privy to the private relationship between Raoule and Jacques in a voyeuristic manner because of the nature of the relationship. For the majority of the novel, Raoule and Jacques only exist together when in private. That is, their relationship is mostly private and “behind closed doors.” By making the relationship so private, Rachilde seems to insinuate that the relationship is in some way “wrong” or “unacceptable.” Also, making the reader privy to this secretive relationship titillates their curiosity in a way that fetishizes Raoule and Jacques and depicts their relationship as more of a guilty spectacle than a legitimately intimate one.

3) The story stigmatizes gender-nonconforming individuals

While reading Monsiuer Venus, I was reminded of the villain in The Silence of the Lambs.

The film received a huge amount of criticism from the trans and queer community for villainizing and pathologizing people with non-conforming gender identities and presentations. In the Silence of the Lambs, the murderer/villain is a cross-dresser who kills women to construct a “woman suit” in order to make himself a woman.

Similarly, Rachilde villainies Raoule by making the reader fear her. The very preface of the novel, “We warn our readers that at the very moment they are cutting these first pages, the heroine of our story is perhaps going past their front door,” explicitly depicts Raoule as someone to be feared. This warning is solidified at the end of the novel when Raoule essentially murders Jacques, defiles his corpse, and has sex with it. This unfortunate depiction of someone who does does not conform to their biological gender invites the reader to see these people as disturbed, dangerous, and disgusting. Thus, despite any apparent challenges of gender throughout the novel, ultimately the reader is left with a disturbing image of Raoule that stigmatizes gender-nonconforming individuals.



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