Study Guide

Mademoiselle de Maupin

by Théophile Gautier

Mademoiselle de Maupin Summary

Summary (Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

D’Albert is a young Frenchman of twenty-two, handsome, artistic, well educated, and well versed in the affairs of the world. He loves beauty, especially female beauty. All his life he has dreamed of women, but he has never met the woman of his dreams, a woman who combines the beauty of a nude painted by Peter Paul Rubens with that of a nude by Titian. It is little wonder that he has not found her.

Another thing lacking in d’Albert’s life is a mistress. One day, his friend de C—— offers to take him around the town and discourse on the various ladies of his acquaintance so that d’Albert can make a choice. The expedition is a delightful one, as de C—— seems to have precise and full information not only on the outward circumstances of every beauty but also on the very quality of her mind. After some hesitation, d’Albert finally decides to lay siege to Rosette, a beautiful young woman; he chooses her because he thinks she is the most likely to bring his romantic and poetic mind down to earth.

It does not take d’Albert long to win Rosette’s love, and they are soon acknowledged lovers. Rosette is pliable, versatile, and always entertaining. She does not leave d’Albert alone long enough for him to indulge in musing daydreams. Variety is the spice of their love.

For five months they are the happiest of lovers, but then d’Albert begins to tire of Rosette. When she notices that his ardor is cooling, Rosette knows that she must do something different if she wishes to keep his love. If he is growing tired of her in the solitary life they are leading, perhaps he will regain his interest if he sees her among a group of people. For this reason, Rosette takes d’Albert to her country estate for a visit. There she plans parties, dinners, and visits to keep him amused, but he remains bored.

One day, an old friend of Rosette arrives, an extremely handsome young man named Théodore de Sérannes, whose conversation, riding, and swordsmanship all entrance d’Albert. The two men meet every day and go hunting together, and the more d’Albert sees of Théodore, the more fascinated he becomes. Before long, d’Albert realizes that he is in love with Théodore.

He is in love with a man, yet d’Albert always thinks of Théodore as a woman. D’Albert’s mind grows sick with the problem of Théodore’s true identity. Some days he is...

(The entire section is 978 words.)