Reflections on Madame de Rênals's First Name

The appearance of Madame de Rênal's first name but once in Le Rouge et le Noir is Stendhal's device for penetrating the mind of its speaker, her husband, to reveal his inner feelings regarding her and their relationship. Coming as it does just after Monsieur de Rênal receives anonymous word of her infidelity heightens our awareness of his traditional assumptions and changing attitude towards her. Previously thought of only as an ornamental possession, Madame de Rênal becomes not only an individual being, but someone with whom to reckon. Thus, through the unique use of a name, Stendhal provides remarkable insights into a man's character. (PLH)

Horn, Pierre L
Volume 1977-1978 Fall-Winter; 6(1-2): 52-56.