The characters and basic plot of Heptathlon novella 32 In Heptagon’s novella 32, the main characters are Barrage, who Is some sort of a diplomat for the King, a German homeowner, and his wife. Also mentioned are King Charles VIII, his painter Jean De Paris, and the wife’s young lover. As Barrage arrives late one evening at the German household the man of the house allows him to stay the night, but with difficulty, due to his mistrust towards men being around his wife. During dinner, a beautiful woman joins the two men at the table.
She is somber and quiet, speaks to no one, and drinks from a human skull. The woman’s husband tells Barrage the story of how he caught her in bed with another man, killed her lover with his bare hands, hung his bones In her room, and forced her to drink from her dead lover’s skull to remind her of her lost friend while looking at her worst enemy (himself). This, he argues, is a punishment “worse than death itself”. The wife, clearly miserable, tearfully tells Barrage how she is not worthy of being the man’s wife and that her crime Is much worse than any punishment he could have Inflicted upon her.
Barrage points out to the owner that she Is regretful and penitent of her sin, and asks him to consider forgiving her. After all, he says, he is still young and it would be a shame for him to die without an heir to inherit his estate. When Barrage returns to the king he conveys to him the story he has seen and heard, and the king, after verifying the events and curious to see this beautiful woman, sends his painter to paint a portrait of her. In the end, the man forgives his wife, seeing as how she remained humble and preserved her humility, and fathered several of her children. . The dinner The atmosphere that Madame Sessile creates In her telling of the dinner scene is one filled with mystery and invoking a deeper curiosity. It would certainly seem very strange to have dinner In the company of a gentleman and a lady who, although are civil, are not speaking to each other. Also curious is the fact that the woman is completely silent and reserved. Her strange demeanor, her very short hair, her clothes – are a mystery, an unusual way for a lady to present herself in front of guests or otherwise.
The atmosphere Is also very gloomy, as It is obvious that this hysterics and enigmatic woman is morose, as is later confirmed by Barrage saying “l regard you as the most unhappy woman in the world”. There is an undeniable tension between the residents of the house, and a curious and strange relationship between them that reveals nothing and leaves everything to the Imagination. What adds to the gravity of the bizarre situation Is that the woman comes In from, and retreats to, a room behind some tapestries, as if purposefully hidden and made to be secretive, resembling the dwelling off hermit.
As a matter of custom, the Oman makes a reverence to the man of the house as she exits, but this doesn’t cancel the strange alarm of gloom and distance that looms around her, for these are the only words she speaks to him, and are pretty much obligatory as per the customs of the times. After we learn that the woman is, in fact, the man’s wife, we can see how tons scene Is very demonstrative AT a deeply situational relations.
Not only ay they no speak to each other, but she is also drinking from a human skull – not something you would see every day, nor expect of a beautiful lady (or any lady) to do. This strange behavior raises several questions in the reader’s mind, including “what is happening”, “who’s idea was this” and “why is she drinking form a human skull? ” The dinner scene, as described, depicts such strange characters and unlikely events that in order to take the story as fact (as it was intended by Mme. Sessile) the reader yearns for a solid explanation.
This explanation is plentifully provided in the subsequent paragraphs. At first, there is more to understand about the dysfunctional nature of the relationship between the German couple. As a 21st entry reader, one might point out the unhealthy, obsessive nature of the man’s love. He says “l would have hazarded a thousand lives to obtain her”, meaning he was willing to literally kill for her – not a very healthy basis for a loving relationship by modern standards; and making that even worse – the actual murder that the man has committed.
The woman, herself a person of faults, as described by her husband: “forgot hers (honor) and the love she had for me, and conceived a passion for a young gentleman” – another limp in the relationship. But the main item that explains his bizarre relationship is not only the punishment that the husband inflicts upon his wife, but the very idea of punishing. Firstly, he set a trap for her by lying about having to go into the country. Then, when he saw from his hiding place his wife with her young lover, he came out and murdered him.
And to put a sick twist on his act of disciplinary action he not only hung the lover’s bones in the woman’s room, but also made her drink from his skull, so that she “may see living him whom she has made her mortal enemy by her crime, and dead him whose love she preferred to mine”. Overall, one might say that the sequence of events as described by the man serve as an adequate explanation to the strange dinner rituals at the house. The sadness of the woman is then later explained when she confesses her deep regret for her crime, and humble acceptance of her punishment.
Although disturbing and unusual, the story leaves no loose ends. 3. The resolution of the conflict The resolution of the conflict between the man and woman in the story owes its thanks to Barrage; had he not intervened in the couple’s relationship, their disbanding might have never seen an end. Barrage brings up two important points that force the German man to reconsider his vow to never trust his wife again: firstly, he points out the obvious regret and humility that have marked the woman’s behavior and demeanor, arguing that she has learned her lesson enough to never repeat her adultery.
Secondly, Barrage brings up an issue that holds strong significance for all men, as much so presently as in the past and future. This is the inheritance issue. Barrage, in a round-about way asks the man to choose what is more important to him – whether it is to hold a grudge forever and thereby gnashing himself, or to think of himself now as only a single link in the formation of a future generation of fine men – his own descendants. In other words, is he willing to give up hope of his name carrying on – giving up the chance to immortality a part of himself – by not having children with his wife?
And would he really want his estate to forgive her (which she obviously – according to Barrage – deserves) and pass his home and substance to legitimate heirs? Baronage’s arguments hold within them several important values. For one: forgiveness. As per the Christian dogma, forgiveness is a fundamental and replaceable value that helps define how a good person should behave, and sets an example of how and why man is greater than beast. Other values, such as tolerance and respect, are in also play here.
It is important to mention that for the Christians, sins can be absolved through faith and humility – exactly what the wife’s behavior exhibits. Another important value that is emphasized is the importance of passing on one’s substance and wealth on to one’s offspring. We can see the same pattern from biblical times and until today: fathers’ glory carried on through their sons, kings’ ands and kingdoms passed on to their princes, knowledge of specific trades and fields of study passing on through the generations of one blood line.
Passing on inheritance is hardly only material; it is an issue of honor, reputation, status, and even keeping oneself alive in memory and spirit through what one leaves behind. This is why it is fair to think that Baronage’s argument was so effective on the man in the story because of Baronage’s status – a kings ambassador. The king has an important task that he must never disregard: the task of keeping the people’s respect and admiration. Although not directly involved in the conflict between the married couple, the kings mark is deeply imprinted in Baronage’s opinions and advice.
As the kings servant, Barrage represents and acts in the name of the kings own interests, thus being held to a greater status and considered more important than a neighbor or a simple friend. Hence, Baronage’s words are appreciated and, as we’ve seen, adhered to. 4. The discussion between the other storytellers There are 8 persons taking part in a discussion following Mme. Isle’s story. The women’s discussion comes first, presenting a general theme of whether a woman’s nor can or cannot be restored after committing adultery.
Parliament is the first to speak, saying that the woman suffered a perfectly reasonable punishment. She claims that because the crime was worse than death, so should be the punishment, which it was. Anisette disagrees with her, claiming that nothing is worse than death (due to its irreversible nature), and, furthermore, there is nothing that could make her wish to die. She uses the Magdalene to illustrate that a sinner can be reformed, and moreover, as long as she has God’s and her husband’s forgiveness, nothing of what others may think of her would matter.
Elongating counters Anisette by saying that no amount of penitence could save Magdalene from her being always labeled a ‘sinner’ and, therefore, no woman can save her reputation after losing her honor. Interestingly, Mme. Sessile herself refrains from making any comments. The men’s discussion takes a completely different turn, into the direction of whether a woman really has any honor to begin with. Simultaneous illustrates this point very clearly by saying that women aren’t capable of love, nor of regret, all in a haughty tone, as if everyone should know this. Diagnosing approaches the subject a bit
Transiently, saying Tanat en Knows Tanat women are as Salmonella says – loveless Ana shameless – but says that had they not been this way, he would Just die of pleasure from knowing that his own true love is fully requited and that he has complete devotion from his woman. Docking also admits that he doesn’t really want to find out whether women can truly love ‘as they should’, because for one, if they could he doesn’t want to die from the pleasure of knowing that, and secondly, if they could then the woman in Mme. Isle’s story would have herself died of grief, from knowing that she inadvertently caused someone’s death.
Immersion basically calls Diagnosing a fool, saying that he needs nothing but faith and hope – things that lack substance – to survive. And lastly, Suborn voices his utter pessimism by comparing love to the plague: a horrible and fatal disease, and warns the men to stay away from it. Simultaneous finishes the argument by saying that after all, women aren’t as foolish as to believe every accusation or claim that is presented to or against them. He realizes that only solid, irrefutable evidence could change a woman’s mind and cause her to agree with a man, and that not everything that seems like a miracle or a good deed always is.