The Charterhouse of Parma

by Marie-Henri Beyle

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Who is Fabrizio's mother in The Charterhouse of Parma?

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Fabrizio's mother is the Marquise del Dongo. On page 10, chapter 1, the French soldier Lieutenant Robert describes her in glowing terms.

Lovely, angelically soft eyes and that pretty dark blond hair that so perfectly framed her charming face. There was a painting of Herodias by Leonardo in my room: you'd have thought it was her portrait.

In comparison, he claims her husband the Marquis del Dongo is a coward. When the French entered Italy, and later Austria, he left his wife to deal with everything while he took refuge in his castle.

She dealt with it well and became thought of as a good person. Though her husband didn't give her much money, she helped out her poor sister by secretly giving her her pearls. Equally, Lieutenant Robert describes how warmly she welcomed him and how actively and emphatically she listened to him, even though he claimed he looked a disgrace.

The author states the Marquise "adored" her son. When Fabrizio boards at a Jesuit college in Milan, she borrows money from her sister-in-law to visit him. She is upset when he decides to leave the country, but does all she can to help him.

The Marquise burst into tears on hearing of her son's strange plan... When she became convinced that nothing in the world, other than the walls of a prison, could prevent his departure, she gave him what little money she owned, then recollected that she had in her possession since the previous day, eight or ten little diamonds, worth perhaps 10,000 lire.

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Fabrizio's mother was the Marquise del Dongo. She is described by Lieutenant Robert as a beautiful woman in full bloom with auburn hair, an oval face, and eyes of "angelic sweetness." According to Robert, she is so lovely she could have been painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

She lives in a splendid home with a marble-paneled dining room and many servants. She is a kind-hearted woman who brought her husband a dowry of 800,000 francs when they married. Unfortunately, her husband is a greedy and hard-hearted man who only allows her 80 francs a month in allowance. Although described as very timid, she manages to take a few diamonds from her jewels, which her husband keeps carefully locked up. She sends these to his sister, who married against his will and who, because she defied him, he will not help out, even though she is starving in Paris. The Marquise is depicted as a gentle woman of goodness and compassion, a sharp contrast to her sordid husband.

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