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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Short Story Analysis : The Dowry

I. The Dowry                                                                
by Guy de Maupassant


Maitre Simon Lebrument and Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier got married recently, and people knew  it was for money because Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier was rich and Maitre Simon Lebrument needed money to pay for the firm of Maitre Papillon which he bought. On their trip to Paris, right after she handed him a big amount of money intended to be a dowry, he left her on an omnibus—left her for good.



1. Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier - Protagonist, Dynamic, and Round
2. Maitre Simon Lebrument - Antagonist, Dynamic, and Round
3. Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier’s parents - Static and Flat
4. The omnibus conductor - Static and Flat
5. The omnibus inspector - Static and Flat
6. Henry, Mademoiselle Jeanne Cordier’s cousin - Static and Flat

B. PLOT - Linear

a) Exposition

The major characters and the short story’s setting were introduced as the two major characters were getting married.

b) Complication

The start of the major conflict was when the male major character had just taken in his motto.

c) Crisis

Tension started when the new husband invited his new wife to eat nearby but instead of taking the cab, he wanted to ride the omnibus.

d) Climax

The peak of this short story was when the new husband was revealed to have just left her.


a) place –in Boutigny-le-Rebours

b) time- a long time ago

c) weather conditions- fine

d) social condition- the female major character belonged to a well-off family, the male major character was poor

e) mood or atmosphere- fine at first, then it became gloomy when the female major character was left by her husband


The Point of View used in this short story is Omniscient Objective – The author tells the story in the third person. It appears as though a camera is following the characters, going anywhere, and recording only what is seen and heard. There is no comment on the characters or their thoughts. No interpretations are offered. The reader is placed in the position of spectator without the author there to explain. The reader has to interpret events on his own.


In my opinion, the literary devices used in this story are Foreshadowing and Irony. Foreshadowing when the marriage was clear to be a “forced” one for the husband because of his financial needs, and the wife’s wealth. There was Irony when the marriage was described as a “forced” one, an “ironic” one because unlike most marriages, this one was clearly because of the man’s financial needs.


For me, the theme "Some people don’t appear as what or who they really are" is appropriate for this short story.


The conflict here is Internal, that of Man vs. Man - that of the wife vs. the husband, because it was clear to everybody that their marriage was because of the husband’s financial needs. --ARV

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