Saturday, February 6, 2010

Beautiful Friend: Chapters 5-8

After reading Chapters 5-8, the Bel Ami Book Club met up Chatzy style, to discuss our thoughts. Meeting Attendees: Lili, Amy, Krystle, Jan

Let the Affair Begin
Chapter 5 begins with George beginning to call on Clotide and those visits becoming a regular habit. The dinner between the Forestiers, Clotide and George out at the restaurant was rather amusing. It seemed like both Clotide and Madeline were seduced by George’s talk of love and affairs. You can almost feel an affair between George and Clotide just about to begin.

“How many are there who would yield to a sudden desire, the caprice of an hour, a passing fancy, did they not fear to pay for a short-lived and fleeting pleasure by an irremediable scandal and painful tears?”

He spoke with infectious conviction, as though pleading a cause, his own cause, as though he had said: “It is not with me that one would have to dread such dangers. Try me and see.”

The often shy George gets the courage to throw himself at tipsy Clotide in the taxi ride home and presto, the affair is on! Clotide loves having this secret double life with George. It allows her to dine and experience places she’s never been to. She oddly enjoys going to grungy places and dressing in disguise. When George is again scraping by financially and cannot afford to take Clotide out, I felt so badly for him. You knew he didn’t want to admit his lack of money to Clotide but he swallows his pride and is honest with her. From then on, Clotide begins leaving him money hidden around his flat or in his clothes. This infuriates George and he repeatedly tells himself he will pay her back. One night out, George and Clotide have an unfortunate run-in with Rachel, the prostitute, and Clotide is so upset and the affair takes a break for awhile.

Clotide is all about double standards. She’s married and having an affair with George but he’s not allowed to sleep with other women? Clotide is very much wrapped up in a fantasy and expects George to do whatever she pleases. Another example of this was when she wanted to go out for a stroll and George did not (since he didn’t have any money). She was so angry he was protesting her that she was going to walk out on him.

Mr. Cocky
George randomly gets cocky and does something foolish. After Forestier insults him, he decides he’s going to try to seduce Madeline. However, she doesn’t fall for his confessions of love one bit. She comes off cold towards the idea of love and you have to wonder why. Was the only man she ever loved Monsieur de Vaudrec? And since they could never be married, she has ill feelings towards love? Later in the reading, after Forestier passes away, George tells Madeline he will be there for her in any capacity she desires: friend, husband, whatever she needs. Madeline tells George she looks at marriage differently than he might think. It’s a partnership, she won’t be told where she can go, what she does or who she can see. I don’t think love and marriage are synonymous for Madeline. Marriage seems more like an arrangement for her since it seems she’s given up on love.

George is very fixed on the idea of landing himself a society lady. And in his eyes, Madeline is the ultimate prize. Does he lover her? It seems George is in love with the idea of Madeline – this witty, charming, high society woman - the perfect partner to make him a successful man.

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