The Chouans

by Honoré Balzac

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Forbidden Love

In the story, Marie de Verneuil is sent to work along with detectives and the military to subdue and capture the leader of the resistance, Marquis de Montauran. Not only are the two on separate sides of the war, but they are also from very different social classes. Marie is a wealthy and high-ranking aristocrat, while Montauran is the rebel leader of a relatively poor area of the nation. In spite of this, and in fact aided by Marie's pursuit of him as an enemy in the war, they fall passionately in love, which is the first of the twists in the novel.


Marie acts as a spy in the midst of the conflict, setting the stage for much deception and trickery. She attempts to get close to her target, the Marquis, through deception, eventually convincing him to trust her. This eventually blossoms into an intimate relationship. However, later, Marie is deceived by the detective Corentin, coming to believe that her betrothed is in love with her enemy, causing her to fly into a rage and sabotage her own plans and opportunity for happiness. This winding tale is full of trickery throughout.

Fear and Doubt

Marie seals the fate of her husband with her own hands. Having been sent to capture and defeat him, she eventually fulfills this goal against her own wishes. In the end, she has been duped into believing her fiancé loves her mortal enemy, Madame de Gua. Because of this, she orders that all the rebels be executed, including her husband-to-be. Unfortunately, she realizes her mistake too late, and dies knowing her husband is not in love with another. She destroys her own love on accident with the command to kill the rebels. She was tricked into a vicious act of self-destruction.

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