Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Indiana is devoted to exploring women’s position in society, the marital relationship, and the family and to condemning the laws that govern women’s existence. The book begins on a rainy autumn evening in Brie, when Colonel Delmare, hunting charcoal poachers, shoots Raymon de Ramière. Raymon, brought into the house and revived, claims that he slipped over the wall to examine the machinery in Delmare’s factory, but he has actually come to meet Noun, Delmare’s maid.

When Raymon wearies of Noun, he re-encounters Indiana, the colonel’s young wife, at a party in Paris and is struck by her beauty and delicacy. He woos her ardently, and Indiana begins to reciprocate his passion. A letter from Noun announcing her pregnancy forces Raymon to meet her at the Delmare estate. Sensing that her lover’s interest has waned, Noun prepares a seductive nest in Indiana’s own boudoir. Her tears and pleas persuade Raymon to make love to her—although, drunk, he imagines that she is Indiana.

Raymon tells Noun that he will not marry her, although he offers her a substantial settlement. Indiana returns unexpectedly, and Noun, panic-stricken, hides Raymon behind a curtain. Indiana discovers Raymon, who covers himself by claiming that his love for her has brought him there. Indignant, Indiana orders him away and reproaches Noun for aiding him. Although she says nothing, Noun realizes that Raymon loves Indiana. The equally unexpected return of Sir Ralph Brown, Indiana’s devoted cousin, forces Raymon to flee. The following day, Indiana discovers the body of Noun, whose despair has led her to drown herself.

Two months later, Colonel Delmare invites Raymon to inspect his...

(The entire section is 695 words.)