The theme of Guy de Maupassant’s “An Adventure in Paris” is the clash between the fantasies that we make up in our minds and reality. This is evident in the fact that the protagonist of the story, a typical, bourgeoise wife, is tired of her traditional life as a wife and mother. In her mind, she dreams of living like those Parisian bohemians she reads about. She feeds herself these ideas from the publications that she reads,
. . . which gave her a glimpse of culpable and ravishing delights, and from her country home, she saw Paris in an apotheosis of magnificent and corrupt luxury.
Therefore, the evidence from the text that shows the clash between fantasy and reality begins with this poignant excerpt. She is basically a traditional, everyday woman desperate to indulge in what she considers to be a much more sophisticated, smart, and glamorous lifestyle in Paris.
However, things do not turn out the way that she expects. She really believed that, upon setting foot in Paris, she would have instantly experienced everything she reads about in the papers: the artists, the bohemians, the debauchery, and the decadence. It is not quite so. Reality was different:
Her relations, who were quite middle-class people, could not introduce her to any of those well-known men with whose names her head was full, and in despair she was thinking of returning
She finally gets a chance to come close to her fantasy when she casually meets the famous author Monsieur Varin. Still determined to live out her fantasies, she forces herself in all the activities of his day, asking him to tell her all about the things she reads about in her magazines. Even then, and as she makes the decision of sleeping with the man as part of her “adventure in Paris,” reality continues to peek in. No matter how hard she tries to fit in, their lives are extremely different, as so are their personalities.
But she was as simple as it was possible for a provincial lawyer’s wife to be, and he was more exacting than a pascha with three tails, and so they did not at all understand each other.
It is then, at the end, when her illusions become entirely deflated. She has the affair, has her day in Paris, but nothing has satisfied her. This famous author that she sleeps with is no longer alluring
she looked, nearly heart-broken, at the little fat man lying on his back, whose round stomach raised up the bed-clothes like a balloon filled with gas.
It is by the end of her “adventure” that there is no doubt that the fantasy of Paris lived only in her mind. Reality is what it is, whether in Paris or in the country. Two clichés that summarize the story’s theme are: “The grass is not always greener on the other side” and “Careful what you ask for, for you may get it.”
It is evident in her final words in the story:
I wanted to know . . . what . . . what vice . . . really was, . . . and . . . well . . . well, it is not at all funny.”