Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Héloïse is a gothic tale. In it, the author builds up to the situation human beings fear most: the defeat of good by evil. The author cleverly intensifies the horror of her story by using a coldly indifferent observer as the narrator. The effect is also heightened by the fact that the novel is set primarily in two enclosed places. One of them is the sinister, unoccupied apartment described in the short first chapter. The other is the Paris metro system, with its network of underground passages.
As the second chapter begins, two young lovers, Christine and Bernard, are celebrating their engagement at the country house of Christine’s parents. Their future seems secure. Bernard has given up poetry in order to study law; Christine is a ballet student. They are deeply in love. By offering to pay their expenses while they complete their studies, Christine’s parents have made an immediate marriage possible. On their trip home, the lovers are blissfully happy.
However, after Christine gets off the metro, Bernard hears a woman singing. After a brief breakdown underground, Bernard notices that a beautiful, pale woman is staring at him. She leaves with a man who seems to have asthma. After his law lecture, Bernard meets Christine, but he keeps looking for the stranger. Finally he does catch a glimpse of her, and he hears her companion call her “Héloïse.” When Bernard and Christine arrive at the apartment the two of them chose...
(The entire section is 579 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
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