The Count of Monte Cristo The Count of Monte Cristo discussion


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Was Danglars' daughter a lesbian?

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Kate Sorry if it's been posted before, but I'm rereading the book now and I'm just getting this vibe from Eugenie, not sure why.


Mark Kate wrote: "Sorry if it's been posted before, but I'm rereading the book now and I'm just getting this vibe from Eugenie, not sure why."

you got Lesbians on your mind which is perhaps the reason.

Sexual identity giving seems to be the curse of the current reader.


Kate Not at all! I was just curious whether Dumas had intended for her to be perceived as such.


Will IV Do you have any specific examples?


message 6: by Xdyj (last edited Aug 15, 2013 04:49PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Xdyj I'm not sure but I think both interpretations of the Eugénie/Louise relationship (as very close friends or as lovers) are consistent with the text. Also cf: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php...


Kate Thank you both for the links :)


message 8: by Mark (last edited Sep 21, 2014 06:30AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mark Well there was I thinking that Eugenie actually wanted to life her life according to her own will and the only one who accepted that was a female friend. In my view she changed her appearance in order to be more accepted in society (if she looks like a man.....etc). To label a feminist attitude as lesbian is what annoys me, but to each its own.
For me Eugenie was more the embodiment of womens' rights as anything else.


Kate Mark wrote: "Well there was I thinking that Eugenie actually wanted to life her life according to her own will and the only one who accepted that was a female friend. In my view she changed her appareance in or..."

I agree with you about the feminist attitude not being an indication of sexual orientation - I just don't think people thought that way in Dumas' time.


message 10: by Sparrowlicious (new)

Sparrowlicious Mark wrote: "Well there was I thinking that Eugenie actually wanted to life her life according to her own will and the only one who accepted that was a female friend. In my view she changed her appareance in or..."

Yes, thank you!
I also think it was her taking her life into her own hands. All along in the book she was very annoyed with how her parents tried to dictate her life.

Also, I read an unabridged version and ... ??? I can't see how anyone could find a specific part that clearly identifies the two characters as lesbians or in love with each other. Seriously, no idea.


message 11: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate Just read Sparknotes and it states that Louise was her "one true love". Although again, that depends on the interpretation.


Phebe Certainly Dumas intended her to be viewed as a lesbian! I don't see how there could be any doubt about that. And it was NOT a flattering characterization.

I was a little surprised he was so openly descriptive about it, really. But that's the thing I've been learning about 19th century literature. We say they were prudish: but they weren't AT ALL. They just carefully coded what they said. For example, the flagrant camp homosexuality of the uncle in "The Woman in White" by Wilkie Collins. Or the decidedly scandalous eroticism of "Dracula."

It's coded, but listen to any of these works as audiobooks and you can hear clearly what the author is doing. They were selling books, same as today, using various sex perversions to titillate.


Beatrice I think it is. In the Italian edition when the author says that Eugenie is so fierce and that girls of her character have often a penchant for Saffo's breast, in the note it's written it's a reference to Eugenie's homosexualty. The flight with her friend, her disguise as a man, the fact that they share a bed and that they are laughed at by Andrea and the villagers, the way the family covers her and the girls' general intimacy are evidence of that. The greatness of Dumas is that he never judges her and to the contrary, I get a feeling of admiration and sympathy for her. Eugenie, Mercedes and Valentine are such wonderful female characters!


message 14: by Kate (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kate Beatrice wrote: "I think it is. In the Italian edition when the author says that Eugenie is so fierce and that girls of her character have often a penchant for Saffo's breast, in the note it's written it's a refere..."

Yeah, that's what I thought :) they definitely are!


message 15: by Dan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dan The Spooky Horse It's probably worth mentioning that "romantic friendship" was somewhat normal until the late 19th century. Since romantic friendships don't really exist in a modern context we (as modern readers) may see hints of a sexual relationship when the author was really depicting a romantic friendship. It is an interesting topic and I recommend reading Lillian Faderman's work if you want to learn more.


message 16: by Tana (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tana I certainly didn't get the feeling she was in anyway a lesbian or that she was being portrayed as a lesbian. I think this has more to do with the British censoring of it. That has given that image. She was an independent woman who wasn't interested in marriage and only interested in her own pursuits. That is why I think it was edited to not give girls silly ideas


Renee M Views on Eugenie's character may vary according to the translation you read. And, also, to abridgement. I know the version, I read in Junior High was quite different in many aspects from the one I read recently. Including, almost everything about Mademoiselle Danglars. I suspect the previous version was censored, at the very least.


Old-Barbarossa Renee wrote: "Views on Eugenie's character may vary according to the translation you read. And, also, to abridgement. I know the version, I read in Junior High was quite different in many aspects from the one I ..."

Very good point.
I love this book but have no French, so I've only ever read the Buss trans published by Penguin, unabridged.
This wasn't salacious in any way but certainly implied heavily that she was.
The text, in translation (and from what I know about Dumas this seems to ring true) is entirely matter of fact about it.


Lynsey Eugenie Danglars is undoubtedly a lesbian! I recently finished an early unabridged translation, and it seems that Dumas all but calls her a dyke. She cross-dresses (and not JUST as she and Louise are running away, as pointed out in the narration), she has no interest in men but is plenty attracted to women. Her mother notices this but brushes off Eugenie's "observations" as being reflective of her artist nature. For example, she finds Haidee attractive. And Louise, of course, is her lover. Of course Eugenie's gay; I can't fathom how that could be unclear to anyone who's read the book or a full translation.


Renee M Exactly!


Lynsey Oh yes, and I'd forgotten the Saffro thing. Well, duh. :)


John (Taloni) Taloni Wikipedia seems to think so:

"Buss's translation updated the language, is more accessible to modern readers, and restored content that was modified in the 1846 translation because of Victorian English social restrictions (for example, references to Eugénie's lesbian traits and behaviour) to reflect Dumas' original version. "


Laureen I happen to agree with Mark but this debate is rather pointless. I don't see how it really matters to this wonderful story. Read it the way it makes sense to you.

Also, one reason I don't like audio books is because the readers are interpreting the story from their own point of view. I like to gain my own interpretation from a story through the feeling I get as I read and my imagination of the characters and their place in the story.


Renee M I certainly agree that imagination is a wonderful thing. However, I respectfully disagree with almost everything you've stated, Laureen.

Character Study is important. The well-written, realistic creation of characters is one of the marks of great writing. With his characters, Dumas gives us a rich slice of the infinite variety of human beings.

A discussion of translation and censorship is also important. What we lose through these applications can markedly alter the story we're reading, in detail, in tone, in intent. Discussion is one of the ways we clarify what we may find discordant between texts.

And, while I can respect that for you audio books are unsatisfactory... Many, many people find them a welcome option that allows books into the life of someone who is far to busy to enjoy the luxury of sitting down and turning pages.


Laureen Thank you for your comments Renee. I guess we will just have to disagree. It depends entirely on what you enjoy about reading. I like to immerse myself in another world away from daily woes. I don't wish to give a critique of the writer's style or characterization. I do believe I happen to enjoy good writing so I don't think I would enjoy something badly written or a story badly realized.

Audio books are a matter of taste. My husband loves them for the reason you give, i.e lack of time. We both spend an hour a day getting to and from work in separate cars. He listens to audio books but I catch up on political issues of the day on radio. I grab time whenever I can, at lunch and going to bed or waiting in the doctor's surgery to enjoy reading.

Regarding censorship, I don't think you can call the "hidden meanings" in writing of the past as censorship in the way we do today. Sexual intimacy not socially approved of was par for the course not to be spoken of but no doubt much thought about, just like child birth wasn't talked about openly. I think we can interpret the story in whatever suits our mood at the time and still appreciate it without academic scrutiny.


Old-Barbarossa Laureen wrote: "Regarding censorship, I don't think you can call the "hidden meanings" in writing of the past as censorship in the way we do today. Sexual intimacy not socially approved of was par for the course not to be spoken of but no doubt much thought about, just like child birth wasn't talked about openly. I think we can interpret the story in whatever suits our mood at the time and still appreciate it without academic scrutiny..."

Up to a point I agree.
I think also Dumas is fairly matter of fact about sexuality, not sensationalist like some writing in English at the same time.
But as I don't have any French I must rely on translations of Dumas, the mid 19th cent English ones are more prudish than the original French from what I can gather, therefore the culture of the writer is occasionally dampened down or obscured by the morality of the translator.
On that note I very much enjoy the translations of Robin Buss.


Laureen @ Old-Barbarossa. That's a good point I hadn't thought about. I was thinking about it from the POV of an English translation which I have to read too. Some times I forget I am reading a translation, bad huh! Of course, in relation to this discussion, that could make big difference!


Alexandra The quote about "Saffo's breast" makes it completely unambiguous that the speaker believes Eugenie to be lesbian. "Saffo" is the Italian form of the name that we are more familiar with as "Sappho" (in the original Greek, Σαπφώ) - the Greek poetess who lived on the island of Lesbos and wrote famous love poetry to young women in her circle. It was this social group of women of Lesbos - Lesbians - that gave rise to the term lesbianism. The earlier, somewhat coy, term for lesbianism was "Sapphic love".

A knowledge of classical literature was considered an essential part of a good education in Dumas' day. So mention of Sappho isn't a hint - it is a clear statement, claiming that "girls of her character [are often lesbians]".


Annie back when I was reading the book I wasn't really sure whether Eugenie is a lesbain or not - it was like Dumas was just hinting it(but then again, I was reading a Bulgarian translation, not the original). Last week I finished another one of his books, La San Felice. There you can clearly see him writing about lesbians (queen Caroline and Emma), he openly calls them "lesbians". So after this, I'm not surprised at all that he'd write Eugenie as a homosexual, actually I'm almost convinced she is one.


Lynsey Annie, yeah he never out and out says she's gay (except for the Sappho reference), but the hints were bombs. In English, that is...I don't know how that would have translated into Bulgarian so yeah. :) Doesn't surprise me that Dumas would have a story with overt lesbian themes....


John (Taloni) Taloni I didn't think Dumas presented Eugenie negatively as others have said. If anything, I thought she most closely reflected Dumas and his disdain for convention.


Renee M I agree, John. I didn't see Eugenie as a negative character. I don't think she was portrayed as negative, and my personal interpretation was that she was rather brave and independent, taking off on her own when her parents tried to marry her off to the fake aristocrat. (Whose name I can't remember right now)


message 33: by Emma (last edited Dec 11, 2014 06:16AM) (new)

Emma Honestly? The first thing I thought after reading the book is that Eugenie is gay (or at least likes women). I think that yes, the important part of her character is her desire for independence and to take charge of her own life, which is wonderful to see in a 19th century female character... But she can like women at the same time! The whole Sappho reference, as well as Dante's habit for writing lesbians AND the really overt "hints" at her sexuality (her conversations and interactions with Louise, her repetitively pointing out the beauty in certain women)--I don't think Dantes would have written such overwhelming evidence that she's in love with Louise without there being some weight to it. Long story short: their relationship is great, platonic or not, but there is definitely a lot of weight to the argument that Eugenie likes women.


Simon Brilsby Mckennadj wrote: "It's probably worth mentioning that "romantic friendship" was somewhat normal until the late 19th century. Since romantic friendships don't really exist in a modern context we (as modern readers) m..."

Yeah, I read somewhere that even in Victorian era England, the romantic two-girl friendship was considered an ideal if 'impossible' form of marriage. The reason was that it was believed that men were the ones with all the wicked sexuality. A marriage between two pure women may not create kids, but they certainly wouldn't have ghastly, ghastly sex.


Jacque Phebe wrote: "Certainly Dumas intended her to be viewed as a lesbian! I don't see how there could be any doubt about that. And it was NOT a flattering characterization.

I was a little surprised he was so openly..."


Nope. Even though Dumas was French, the French and the British were very open about sex. Even Chaucer and Shakespeare, Donne and Wycherly were very blunt on sexual topics.


Simon Brilsby I read her as a lesbian (but then I view most same sex characters as holding sexual urges for each other: Albert and Franz; Albert and the cross-dressing boy thief). I read arguments that just because she is masculine and Louise is feminine doesn't mean she's a lesbian, and that to assume she is gay from that would be playing into longstanding stereotypes. An understandable argument, because in real life I wouldn't apply the reasoning 'butch + femme = obvious couple'. That does not mean, however, Dumas wouldn't apply that reasoning. It is a recent thing that we view romantic relationships as partnerships between equals. In Dumas' time it was viewed that the man was active and dominant while the woman was passive and submissive. Relationships were framed in these hierarchical terms, as such it is not absurd to reason that the minds of those aware enough to acknowledge the existence of same-sex relationships would, nonetheless, still frame the relationship in dominant/submissive terms. A love between two females, in their minds, Dumas' included, would still be a love between a masculine and a feminine, a butch and a femme. While in modern literature I would not call the commingling of a butch and a femme evidence of a lesbian relationship, I would call it evidence in the case of 19th century literature. We say it's an old fashioned stereotype these days, so let's not forget the Victorian era, by its very nature, was the home of many of these stereotypes.

When determining if these characters are lesbians, we must consider that Dumas was both a writer in the 19th century and that he was an ultra-popular writer. As such, if he were to include gay characters it would need to be through innuendo and implication, so as not to scandalise his moralistic readership. We are in danger of straight-washing literary history if we call these suggestions of homosexuality, the era's most explicit means of communicating homosexual themes, non-existent simply because they are not explicit. Of course Dumas couldn't say they were in love outright, nor even involve them in intimate acts, but the extent to which he does suggest her lesbianism is still quite daring for the time. Characters state that she is unlike her sex in that she will compliment the beauty of her own gender, she is referenced to wear metaphorical breastplate of Minerva as Sappho once wore, and she runs off with another girl who she is later found in the same bed with, despite the room having two beds. To pass that last point off as merely a sign of friendly/sisterly bonding in the context of her previous characterisation strikes me as a wilful forcing of heterosexuality on her, as unjustified as much of the current vogue for forcing homosexuality on other, far less evidenced, characters in literature is. Their being in bed together, to me, seems the veiled, though surprisingly candid, confirmation of string of suggestions placed by Dumas, saved from being explicit because his audience would brush it off as being sisterly.

Perhaps I am being unfair to those taking the contrary point, perhaps they are reading the original English translation (therefore the easily accessible Public domain version that even Vintage uses) which cuts out much of Dumas' sapphic subtext.


Simon Brilsby Jacque wrote:

I was a little surprised he..."


You say 'even Chaucer and Shakespeare, Donne and Wycherly were very blunt on sexual topics.' Yes, because they weren't Victorians. Past culture is very explicit, it was the Victorians who came along and started preaching prudishness. The Bowdlerisation of Shakespeare (done by the original Ms Bowdler) was heralded as brilliant 'correction' of Shakespeare's excesses. While the authors you mentioned are without question open with sexuality, the Victorian era fought against their laissez-faire attitude.


Alexandra Michael wrote: "Jacque wrote:

I was a little surprised he..."

You say 'even Chaucer and Shakespeare, Donne and Wycherly were very blunt on sexual topics.' Yes, because they weren't Victorians. Past culture is ve..."


Actually the prudishness was only one strain of Victorian thought, just as the Moral Majority is only one modern voice. cf. Inventing the Victorians by Matthew Sweet.

But in discussing whether or not the text has been censored, one must remember that certain eras persuaded themselves that there was no such thing as the female sex drive; therefore, without the presence of a man demanding sex, nothing would be happening in the bedroom! In such a mindset, there is no distinction between "close female friendship" and "lesbian love".

(I have read school stories from the 1950s aimed at teenage girls, where "having a crush on" an older girl or female teacher is considered as a perfectly normal part of school life.)

Dumas could therefore have his cake and eat it: he drops enough hints to make Eugenie's lesbianism clear to those who had heard of such things, whilst more prudish readers would detect simply female friendship.

As to his not being more explicit: there are fashions for how one writes about such things. I don't recall him being terribly detailed as to the minutiae of bedroom activity between heterosexual lovers either (although my impressions may, of course, be distorted by the translation).


message 39: by Old-Barbarossa (last edited Dec 16, 2014 05:01AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Old-Barbarossa Alexandra wrote: "As to his not being more explicit: there are fashions for how one writes about such things. I don't recall him being terribly detailed as to the minutiae of bedroom activity between heterosexual lovers either (although my impressions may, of course, be distorted by the translation)..."

Even in the unabridged trans of The 3 Musketeers the liason between D'Artagnan and Milady is more hinted at than explicit...and that is an important plot point.


Alexandra Old-Barbarossa wrote: "Alexandra wrote: "As to his not being more explicit: there are fashions for how one writes about such things. I don't recall him being terribly detailed as to the minutiae of bedroom activity betwe..."

Thanks, Old-Barbarossa. I remember that scene as being sufficiently delicate in its phrasing that when I first read it (in an unabridged edition), aged 10, I completely missed the point that actual sex, as opposed to flirting (& presumably heavy petting) was taking place!


Quoleena Sbrocca This is my all time favorite book. And I will add that had I read the "wrong" translation, I would not have enjoyed it so thoroughly. I know this because I have read various versions of a couple of his other books, and the style of translation can either do it justice or make you wonder why the hell it's considered a classic. But I digress.

I own the 1462 pg version with the Carcaterra introduction. I've read it three times. By the 3rd time I read it, I was certain that Dumas--via the 19th century mode of decorum--writes Eugenia as a lesbian. There were hints of this throughout her chapters. I say hints, because in the 21st century, it would be stated obviously. In the 19th century, not so much. They weren't as open to gay/lesbian in that era, so it makes sense that Dumas would write her as a leabian in the manner that he did. I loved her character. The argument of whether she is or isn't, in terms of good or bad, seems odd to me. I think his writing of her--and all of his characters--is so in depth and believable, and he went so far as to add the layer of sexual orientation.

As I said, the 1462 behemoth is my all time favorite book, and I plan to read it a 4th, 5th, 6th...time too.


John (Taloni) Taloni Michael, great analysis.


message 43: by Emma (new)

Emma Michael wrote: "I read her as a lesbian (but then I view most same sex characters as holding sexual urges for each other: Albert and Franz; Albert and the cross-dressing boy thief). I read arguments that just beca..."
I completely forgot the room they were found in had 2 beds, otherwise I would have included it in my comment. Wonderful analysis, Michael!


Simon Brilsby Emma wrote: I completely forgot the room they were found in had 2 beds, otherwise I would have included it in my comment. Wonderful analysis, Michael!

Thank you!

Just to pointlessly nitpick, in your analysis you write 'Dante's habit for writing lesbians' and 'Dantes would have written'. I think you've either had a Freudian slip, mixing the author up with the character, or the author with an entirely different author.

Otherwise great analysis.


Lindsay I wholeheartedly DISagree with anyone who insists Eugenie Danglars is a lesbian. As Anton Chekhov once wrote, regarding the conditions which must be satisfied by those who are cultured, "if they have a talent they respect it. They sacrifice to it rest, [love], wine, vanity…. They are proud of their talent…. Besides, they are fastidious." There is no character in the history of literature more true to this condition than that of Eugenie Danglars. And that was exactly the point!

One of my favorite parts of the novel is when she is arguing with her father regarding her arranged marriage to Benedetto and she says, "My wish was not to confine myself to domestic cares, or the caprices of any man, but to be an artist, and consequently free in heart, in person, and in thought."

"FREE IN HEART ..."
Eugenie Danglars is not a lesbian. She is not even interested in love; she respects herself too greatly to care for anything of the sort. She is an individual and an artist. She is a true communist ... and one of the greatest female literary characters ever created.

Bottom line.


message 46: by E D (new) - rated it 5 stars

E D Lindsay wrote: "I wholeheartedly DISagree with anyone who insists Eugenie Danglars is a lesbian. As Anton Chekhov once wrote, regarding the conditions which must be satisfied by those who are cultured, "if they ha..."

Very interesting!!


message 47: by Will (new) - rated it 5 stars

Will IV Lindsay wrote: ""FREE IN HEART ..."
Eugenie Danglars is not a lesbian. She is not even interested in love; she respects herself too greatly to care for anything of the sort. She is an individual and an artist. She is a true communist ... and one of the greatest female literary characters ever created.

Bottom line. "


I think you're way off base. What sort of artist doesn't love?


message 48: by Jon (new)

Jon Brown My belief in her attractions toward women stemmed from the way she spoke of haidee when she saw her at the opera and her general attitude toward men, while not fully contemptuous, was, or at least appeared to be, indifferent to nearly all, even Monte Cristo who had aided her in her escape. There was also the scene just before benedettos arrest where, when he entered their hotel room through the chimney, he found them in the same bed, when it had been previously mentioned that they had gotten a room with two beds. I don't see how an assumed lesbianism can somehow be an affront to her character though. Why is it that mark feels so offended by this supposition of her sexual orientation simply because she also appeared to be strong willed and held a desire to live freely of her own said will. Why must one be independent of the other? Also, as far as the "free in heart" piece, I feel that that is simply stating her desire to freely choose to whom she will love not that she is free of love (without love).


message 49: by Tracy (last edited Jun 11, 2016 02:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tracy Klein The inn keeper says the gentleman that was travelling with his sister was renting a two bed room, but they were sharing beds when Andrea broke into the room. I had my suspicions but that confirmed it.
I agree with Jon, seeing her sexual orientation as an affront isn't fair, Eugenie might want to be free and independent while being lesbian at the same time. She told her father she can't love, but I had the perception she said it because she's clever and would never confess something like that to her father. It would not have helped her case at all.
Also, if mademoiselle d'armilly was just a friend, she would have helped her escape and would have supported her, but would she give up her whole life to follow a friend on such a radical lifestyle change? It might be, but it's unlikely. If we think of her as her lover that makes sense.


message 50: by Maci (new)

Maci I'd have to say yes and for two reasons. One being that when she tried on the men's clothes it was said that it wasn't the first time she had dressed like this. Also she was caught in a bed with another women.


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