Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Consuelo is a rambling novel divided into 106 chapters, each consisting of a short scene which advances the story by slow degrees. It reflects George Sand’s own love of freedom and adventure, as well as her love of music. The story is significant to women’s issues and concerns because it illustrates the plight of a lower-class girl in a male-dominated society where opportunities are restricted to men. It illustrates Sand’s view that marriage, the only “career” open to most women, could be little better than slavery.

The opening chapters deal with Consuelo’s life in Venice. She hopes to escape from grinding poverty by obtaining a musical education at the Scuola dei Mendicanti, a public charity school conducted by Porpora. Only because Consuelo possesses musical genius can she aspire to a better life than most women of her class. Nevertheless, her career on the stage exposes her to lecherous advances by men who assume that women of her profession are immoral.

Consuelo grew up with a handsome Italian boy named Anzoleto. Although they often sleep side by side on the pavement or in gondolas, their relationship is chaste. Consuelo takes it for granted that they will marry. Anzoleto is a good singer, and women find him fascinating. His musical ability, however, is far inferior to that of his fiancée. Realizing this, he hopes to attain success by romancing wealthy women. Consuelo is heartbroken when she discovers that Anzoleto is being callously unfaithful; she seizes...

(The entire section is 616 words.)