Feminine Men (Maupassant)

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Feminine Men
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: The story explores the characteristics of feminine men, their fickleness, charm, and inconsistency, comparing them to harlots and highlighting their relationships, friendships, and moral values.

In France, there was a common saying that men were feminine, meaning they were fickle, fanciful, and inconsistent in their convictions and will. The most irritating of these men were the Parisians and the boulevardiers, who combined all the attractions and faults of charming harlots. The Chamber of Deputies was full of such men, who controlled others with soft words and deceitful promises. They were sincere in their weathercock convictions and easily deceived others.

For all we men in France are feminine, that is, fickle, fanciful, innocently treacherous, without consistency in our convictions or our will, violent and weak, as women are.

Foreigners, especially the English and Germans, regarded these men with amazement and contempt. They considered them frivolous, but in reality, they were feminine. This was why people loved them despite their faults and always returned to them after quarrels.

The effeminate man was so charming that he captivated others within minutes. His smile seemed made for the person he was talking to, and his voice had a special tenderness. When he left, it felt like they had known each other for years. People were ready to lend him money if he asked for it, and if he didn't act straight, they couldn't bear any malice towards him. He was enchanting, like a woman.

The effeminate man, as one meets him in this world, is so charming that he captivates you after five minutes’ chat.

The Narrator — narrator; critical observer of feminine men and their behavior.

These men had friendships that were uncertain and governed by fits and starts. They were furious with each other half the year, abusing and loving each other by turns. Their relations were unpredictable, and their excitement was liable to eclipse. One day they loved their friends, the next day they hardly looked at them. Their sentiments were like the affections of harlots.

When a feminine man fell in love with a real harlot, they had a tumultuous relationship. They couldn't bear the sight of each other but couldn't part either. They were both unhappy and yet couldn't separate. They cast invectives, reproaches, and accusations at each other, but when they reached the climax of their rage, they fell into each other's arms and kissed passionately.

The feminine man was brave and cowardly at the same time. He had an exalted sense of honor but lacked simple honesty. He would defalcate and commit infamies without questioning his conscience. He considered it honorable not to pay his debts, unless they were gambling debts. He duped people whenever the laws of society allowed him to do so, but he would indignantly run his sword through anyone who even suspected him of lacking in delicacy.