A Sister’s Confession by Guy de Maupassant
In A Sister’s Confession by Guy de Maupassant we have theme of jealousy, love, forgiveness, loneliness, guilt, loss, freedom, sacrifice and connection. Narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator the reader realises after reading the story that de Maupassant may be exploring the theme of jealousy. Marguerite when she was younger was jealous of Suzanne’s relationship with Henry. So jealous is Marguerite of the relationship that she takes the extreme measure of killing Henry in order that he will not marry Suzanne. The reader aware that Marguerite’s logic is that if she can’t have Henry nobody else can. Though some critics might suggest that Marguerite has acted selfishly it may be a case that de Maupassant is highlighting the extremes a person can go to when driven by jealousy. They do not think straight nor do they think of the consequences of their actions. For Marguerite she has lived her life since Henry’s death awash with guilt and paid a heavy price by deciding herself never to marry and to stay by Suzanne’s side. Though Marguerite is guilty of murder she has in fact also made sacrifices in her life. One of which is by staying by Suzanne’s side.
Suzanne is also an interesting character as she shows no signs of bitterness towards Marguerite for her actions when it came to Henry. In fact she doesn’t have to think about forgiving Marguerite it is as though it comes natural to Suzanne. This could be important as de Maupassant may be suggesting that Suzanne though she has lived her life as a widow might bear no ill will towards her sister for reshaping her life so drastically. Which may leave some readers to suggest that there is a close and intimate connection between both Suzanne and Marguerite. Despite everything that has happened and the truth being told by Marguerite. Suzanne fully accepts her sister’s actions. Though some critics might suggest that Suzanne is holding back the bitterness she might feel (as others would feel) and allowing Marguerite a smooth, guilt free transition to the next life. It is more likely that Suzanne is of a good heart and doesn’t in fact hold any animosity towards Marguerite. Despite the sense of loss that Suzanne may feel after she finds out what has really happened to Henry. It may also be a case that de Maupassant is highlighting how destructive an emotion like jealousy can be if it is not kept in check.
By telling Suzanne the truth about what happened Henry; Marguerite in many ways frees herself of the burden that she had been carrying for so many years. She is at one and has Suzanne’s forgiveness. It is as though a turbulent repeating episode in Marguerite’s life no longer has any control over her. She has been honest and forthcoming with the truth. When she may not have necessarily have had to tell the truth. Marguerite could have simply died without telling Suzanne about Henry and no one would be any the wiser. Instead she took the braver and harder step of clearing her conscience and preparing herself for death. It is also possible that some critics might suggest that Marguerite only cleared her conscience because of some religious concerns she may have had but in all likelihood it goes deeper than that. She may wish to see Suzanne happy again even if she is an older woman now. She too like Marguerite will be able to let go of the past now that she has an understanding of it. An understanding that has cost her both Marguerite and Henry. The two people she loves most in the world.
How deeply affected Marguerite actually was by killing Henry is also noticeable by the fact that she like Suzanne never courted or married another man. In all likelihood Marguerite was ravished by guilt and as such stayed by Suzanne’s side as she grieved the loss of Henry. Both women in reality gave the best years of their lives to the same man. Something which may leave readers suspecting that neither woman was ever able to let go of Henry or in particular Henry’s memory. He was at the forefront of both women’s minds despite his passing. Though this is not something that Suzanne becomes aware of till Marguerite is dying. Both sisters shared a love for the same man yet neither woman would have Henry due to the jealousies felt by Marguerite. Instead both Suzanne and Marguerite appear to have lived lonely lives without much engagement with the outside world. Which may be the point that de Maupassant is attempting to make. He may be suggesting that both Suzanne and Marguerite may have served themselves better if they were able to embrace the world again and forget about Henry. Even if this might be a difficult thing to do.