illustrated portrait of French author Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant

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What are the point of view, conflict, setting, and theme of "Moonlight"?

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The broadest setting location for this story is Paris, France; however, that setting location doesn't really matter. The entire story takes place in the home of Madame Julie Roubere. More specifically, the two main characters spend the story talking with each other in the parlor room.

The narrative point of view is third person omniscient. In this narrative point of view, a narrator knows the feelings and thoughts of every character in the story.

The central conflict is an internal conflict. Madame Henriette Letore has had an affair while she was on vacation. Her husband had returned early and that gave her the opportunity for the affair. It goes without saying that Letore must be conflicted about her marriage in order to consider having the affair in the first place. She confesses that she loves her husband, but she wishes that he was more physically intimate with her more often.

"You know my husband, and you know how fond I am of him; but he is mature and sensible, and cannot even comprehend the tender vibrations of a woman's heart. He is always the same, always good, always smiling, always kind, always perfect. Oh! how I sometimes have wished that he would clasp me roughly in his arms, that he would embrace me with those slow, sweet kisses which make two beings intermingle, which are like mute confidences!"

Simply put, she struggles with knowing her husband loves her and feeling that love when he is so physically and emotionally distant.

"There is no reason why we should kiss each other because you like the landscape."

Letore has an affair while her husband is away, which leads to Letore experiencing an internal conflict around her feelings of guilt. That much is clear when she begins weeping in her sister's arms after telling the story.

And, sinking into her sister's arms, Madame Letore broke into groans -- almost into shrieks.

If she didn't feel guilty, she would be proud of her actions instead of sorrowful. She'd be smiling, not weeping.

As for a theme, there is definitely a theme of love. I think the love theme is shown in three distinct ways in this story. The first is that love is (or should be) an all-consuming combination of emotional and physical attraction. It's what Letore seems to want most out of a relationship. She admits that her husband is a wonderful caregiver; however, that doesn't seem to be solid enough evidence of his love for her. That care and devotion for somebody is the second thematic display of love in this story. The husband believes that he is showing his love through his care and his goodness. She longs for physical love and he gives her devoted love. Both are wonderful expressions of love. Roubere points out a third view of love in this story. She points out to Letore that in many cases love is nothing more than an abstract concept. People love the idea of being in love.

"You see, sister, very often it is not a man that we love, but love itself."

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The point of view is perspective from which the story is told. In this story, the narrator is outside the characters, looking in. We call that the 3rd-person point of view. Additionally, the narrator knows the thoughts of both characters, so we call that the omniscient (all-knowing) 3rd person.

The setting is the parlor of the home of Madame Julie Roubere.

The overriding conflict in this story is man vs. self. When Henriette arrives, Julie is struck by the fact that she has two white locks in her black hair. Henriette is in her early twenties, and so should not have any white hairs. Julie knows something is wrong and begs her sister to tell her. Henriette is dissatisfied in her marriage and believes she has had an affair with a phantom. The conflict is not man vs. man because Henriette's husband is not aware of her conflict. She struggles within herself, searching for the romance that is missing in her marriage.

A theme of this story may be what Julie says in the last paragraph: "...very often it is not a man that we love, but love itself." Would Henriette be satisfied by any man?

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