(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Indiana deals with the freedom of the individual; in it, George Sand tries to do away with romantic notions of choice and to present humans made thoroughly miserable by the structures and imposed silences of society. She observed in the preface to the 1832 edition that “the being who tries to free himself from his lawful curb is represented as very wretched indeed, and the heart that rebels against the decrees of its destiny in sore distress.” Throughout the novel, an atmosphere of gloom and melancholy prevail, while physical love is presented as a hallucinatory delusion. Indiana and Ralph, the most sympathetic characters, are shown as passive beings driven almost mad by the pressures of society, while the guileless Noun is impelled to kill herself from similar pressures.

Speech is the way in which these characters attempt to declare their autonomy; throughout the work, characters engage in lengthy monologues or equally lengthy letters, which Sand reproduces in full. Ralph, inarticulate at the beginning of Indiana, is by the end able to utter the prolonged statement which preludes his and Indiana’s suicide attempt; Indiana, silent and dreamy, pens lengthy missives to Raymon and finally silences him with her eloquence. It is their final breaking through to articulation which allows them to remain unsilenced by the attempted suicide and to emerge in the final chapter as beings who speak directly with the narrator for the first time. Those movements toward eloquence...

(The entire section is 614 words.)