Devouring De Maupassant: Useless Beauty

Title: Useless Beauty
Date Read: 09 January 2012
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: Livid at the treatment meted out by her oppressive and jealous husband, the stunningly attractive Comtesse de Mascaret confronts the Comte, telling him that she knows exactly why he has kept her in a state of motherhood for eleven years. The Comte is furious, but it’s nothing to just how angry he becomes, when the Comtesse reveals a hidden secret that’s linked to their seven children. The Comte’s world is about to be rocked.
Afterthoughts: This is a fairly long tale from Maupassant but it’s one which doesn’t seem so, because it’s so full of high drama that it keeps one riveted to the page. It’s not all about action though, because this is a story which has a very philosophical side to it too. In one extraordinary portion of the story Maupassant muses on beauty, while rebuking Nature for instilling in man such animalistic instincts. According to Maupassant, God has put nothing ‘clean, pretty, elegant or accessory to our ideal’ on this world. These are inventions of the human mind, created to better deal with the impulsive ‘repugnant act’ of reproduction, and to help us deal with the fact that like every living creature we are nothing more than simple reproducers.
Notable Quote: “Why? Ah! my dear fellow, just consider! Eleven years in a condition of motherhood for such a woman! What a hell! All her youth, all her beauty, every hope of success, every poetical ideal of a brilliant life sacrificed to that abominable law of reproduction which turns the normal woman into a mere machine for bringing children into the world.”

Rating: ★★★★☆

*Story read as part of my Devouring De Maupassant reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn’t bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).


  1. This sounds like an interesting story, Rob.