Characters

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Thérèse Desqueyroux is a novel written by French author Francois Mauriac. It was published in 1927 and published in English for the first time in 1928. The story takes place in rural south-west France and opens after a court case against Therese Desqueyroux has been dismissed. Therese was in court charged with poisoning her husband Bernard. There are three significant characters in the story; Therese, Bernard, and Bernard’s half-sister Anne.

Therese Desqueyroux is the principal character in the book. She is a young, beautiful, and intelligent woman who is married to landowner and materialist Bernard Desqueuyroux. Therese doesn’t love her husband, and he doesn’t treat her well. Unhappy in the marriage, Therese tries to poison Bernard with Fowler’s Solution, a medicine that contains arsenic. However, Bernard survives, and Therese is arrested. Despite there being strong evidence against her, the case is thrown out when Bernard testifies in her defense. Following the trial, Bernard keeps Therese a virtual prisoner in his family’s isolated home until, finally realizing that the scandal is never going to cease, he allows her to leave and move to Paris.

Bernard Desqueyroux is Therese’s husband. He is a landowner and a very materialistic man. Therese does not love him, but he doesn’t love her either. Despite Therese’s attempt on his life, he testifies for her defense, as he wants to avoid a scandal for his family. He is successful, in so far as the case against Therese is dropped, but this does not mean that he has avoided scandal altogether. Bernard may have testified for Therese, but he has not forgiven her. He moves her away and locks her up in his family’s isolated home, where she takes to her bed. When his sister becomes engaged, he allows Therese to attend the engagement party, but the guests are shocked to see the state of Therese’s emaciated appearance.

Anne is Bernard’s half-sister. She is a generous woman who often invites her brother to her house. When she becomes engaged, Bernard takes Therese to her party only because that is what would be expected. It is at this party that Bernard realizes that he needs to let Therese go.

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