Le Cabinet des Antiques (1)

La Maufrigneuse

Is the Maufrigneuse who appears as a deus ex machina in Alençon in time to save the butt of the blonde imbecile and delivers the Molièresque homily, “Marry for money,” the same woman who seduced and abandoned d’Esgrignon in Paris? Or did Balzac, in taking the hands of one person and the lips of another, neglect to stitch them together in the same body?

Not to worry, of course. The Duchess would come to know (relative) poverty. And d’Esgrignon would take his revenge at a get together chez Madame d’Espard, where he reappears as a jeune fat (well maybe no longer so young) ready to rally anyone so foolish as to entrust themselves to his old mistress. By the way, every phrase of Les Secrets de la Princesse de Cadignan implies a routine amorous deception on the part of la Maufrigneuse. Indeed at one point Balzac indicates the seduction would have a tragic conclusion. Does the sudden peripety tell us there was something brewing when Diane spent needless hours in intense conversation with d’Arthez? Or was Balzac simply anxious to finish off the story and get on to something else?