The novel “A Woman of Thirty” was created by Honore de Balzac for five years, from 1829 to 1834. Initially, each of the parts of the work was a separate story. Later, the writer combined them into one at the expense of the central female character, the Marquise of Julie D’Aiglemont.
“A Woman of Thirty ” is known to every modern human by the expression “Balzac age” that came out of her. The latter is understood as that period in the life of a woman when she acquires the necessary sensual and personal experience, forcing her to live in accordance with the commands of her heart and perform acts uncharacteristic of social and religious morality. In life, Julie D’Aiglemont is age – from thirty to forty years.
The artistic problems of the novel is located in the love plane. It is related to the topics:
- love for yourself ;
- love between a man and a woman;
- maternal love;
- love of God.
The selfish love of self is revealed in the images of Victor and Julie D’Aiglemont: the first requires the wife to fulfill the marital debt without giving her spiritual love in return, and begins to seek solace on the side immediately after the wife leaves the family bed; the second is to strive for inner happiness from the very beginning of marriage, associating it not with family or child well-being, but with its own personal sensual pacification.
The central theme of the novel – love between a man and a woman – is revealed through the following pairs of heroes: Julie D’Aiglemont – Victor D’Aiglemont; Julie – Arthur Granville; Julie – Charles de Vandenes; Elena D’Aiglemont – Victor corsair.
Julie’s family relations with her husband are doomed to failure. He is predicted by the girl’s father, who sees the true nature of Colonel D’Aiglemont, who needs to satisfy simple physiological needs: four meals a day, a dream, a love for the first beautiful girl and a good battle. Young Julie, blinded by the first feeling in her life, sees in Victor not a person, but an image invented by her. Having entered into marriage, the girl understands what she faced.
The further life of the marquise takes place in the struggle between the sense of duty and the desire for happiness. While the new love does not visit her, Julie is desperately trying to come to terms with her sad state: she leads her narrow-minded husband and tries to return him to the bosom of her family solely for the happiness of her daughter Elena. As soon as the young Lord Grenville appears in the life of the Marquise, her usual life collapses. Julie realizes that she loves and is loved, but still cannot overcome the framework of propriety set by the light. The only way out, which finds the Marquis, is to abandon bodily love: giving his heart to Arthur, Julie promises him not to be with her husband or with him and asks him not to insist, otherwise she will go to the monastery.
A psychological change in the soul of a marquise occurs under the influence of two events: the possible death and the true death. She agrees to the first, having learned how Arthur loves her passionately; the second — Arthur’s death — leads her to a series of reflections on the impermanence of being and the natural beauty of life. The first “death” opens for Julie the possibility of betraying her husband, the existence with which she perceives as “legalized prostitution”; the second, bringing unbearable grief upon it, frees the mind from the fetters of human laws.
In a conversation with a priest who lost his entire family and found solace in the faith, the Marquis opens up his idea of the modern world order. According to Julie, “God did not create a single law that would lead to unhappiness; and people gathered and distorted his creations. ” The moral foundations of society turned out to be cruel, above all, towards women: while nature endowed them with physical pain, human civilization rewarded developed spirituality and, at the same time, took away the possibility of its use. Love for Julie D’Aiglemont is unthinkable without the consonance of souls, and only in this she sees the fullness of life. In God, in religion there is no consolation for the marquise, and there can be no, because they do not give her the most important thing – women’s happiness with a man.
The transition from observance of secular laws to their violation takes place inside Julie as soon as she overcomes the first grief. Describing the nature of the latter, Balzac points out that moral torment is not typical of young people. Having passed through them, they either turn to the faith or remain to live on the sinful earth.
Maternal love in the novel is revealed through the love of a woman to a man. Julie loves and protects Elena at the level of animal instinct, but she cannot give her daughter the warmth of the soul, since the latter was born of an unloved husband. The loss, through the fault of Elena, little Charles, the son of his second big love, Charles de Vandenes, finally turns Julie away from her eldest daughter. His next children, born in marriage – Gustave, Abel and Moquine, the marquis can already love, because she had a happy love for a man who, like all other passions, turned out to be transitory.
In the novel “A Thirty Years Old Woman” Balzac with amazing accuracy conveys the inner feelings of lovers and the first, timid attempts to bring them closer. In the relationship between Julie and Arthur mutual recognition becomes possible thanks to the picturesque landscapes of France, as if whispering to them about love. The awareness of the inevitability of the feelings in them Julie and Charles comprehend through eloquent silence, burning eyes, timid shaking hands and the first sincere kiss on the cheek.
The love line of Helena D’Aiglemont and Victor’s corsair is born on criminal ground (in a stranger the girl feels her soul mate), but becomes one of the strongest in the novel. So, how happy Elena, immensely adored by her husband and deified by the crew of his ship, Julie was never happy. In her chosen one, Elena finds everything a woman needs for happiness: tenderness, kindness, love, a constant presence around for many years of her life, a desire to give everything to her beloved, starting from attention and ending with jewels.