Monsieur Jocaste (Maupassant)

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Monsieur Jocaste
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A man unknowingly fell in love with and married his own daughter, whom he had not seen since her birth, due to their striking resemblance to her deceased mother.

A young woman, married at sixteen to a hard-hearted older man, found herself unhappy and yearning for an ideal happiness. She fell in love with a young man named Pierre Martel, who was also deeply in love with her.

Pierre Martel — narrator; a rich man in his forties; passionate, loving, and tormented by his past.

One evening, they gave in to their passion, and the woman became pregnant. Unsure if the child was her husband's or her lover's, she made Pierre promise to watch over the child and ensure its happiness, even if it meant committing a crime.

She became pregnant. By her husband, or by her lover. How did she know? Doubtless by her lover.

The woman died giving birth to a girl, and Pierre, filled with grief, lost contact with the child.

She died giving birth to a girl.

Years later, he learned of the husband's death and decided to find his daughter. He discovered that she was living in poverty with her aunt. When he met her, he was struck by her resemblance to her mother and became infatuated with her.

The Daughter — Pierre's daughter; young, blonde, and resembles her deceased mother; passionate and loving.

Pierre struggled with his feelings and his desire to help the young woman. He worried about how to offer her money or find her a husband without revealing his true identity. One evening, the young woman, overwhelmed by her own feelings, threw herself into Pierre's arms. They became lovers, and Pierre decided to marry her, despite knowing that she might be his daughter.

He asked for her hand, and he married her.

Pierre rationalized his decision by remembering the promise he made to the young woman's mother and believing that no one would ever know the truth. He hoped that their secret sin would not destroy their happiness, and he was willing to bear the weight of their actions alone.