Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Paris. France’s capital city is the setting for the major part of the novel. Marivaux’s novel examines the life available to a woman in the eighteenth century, when Paris was the center of society. All rules of social conduct and moral values were developed there and imitated elsewhere. Paris is definitely the place for Marianne’s life to unfold. The story deals in a conventional manner with aristocratic society, which was the proper subject of novels at the time. Marianne gravitates toward this society. Although her origins are cloaked in mystery, she has a strong sense that her unknown parents were members of the upper class. By chance and good fortune, Marianne finds herself included in this society. Thus, Marivaux’s novel conforms to the dictates of other novels of the period. As an observer and recorder of human experience, Marivaux was, however, intrigued by those who were not members of the aristocracy and took great pleasure in creating characters from other social milieus.

By setting his novel in Paris, Marivaux also affords himself the opportunity of including characters from other classes. His aristocrats and Marianne herself interact with the shopkeepers, coach drivers, and various other people of the city in such a way that Marivaux creates a wonderful panorama of characters not found in other novels of the period. At the shop where Marianne is employed for a short time, the reader meets the merchant Madame Dutour, a character almost as...

(The entire section is 611 words.)