REFLECTION 4: On the Beach at Trouville

13 Jun

On the Beach at Trouville

I looked at Claude Monet’s On the Beach at Trouville (1870). The painting is oil on canvas and hangs at the Musée Marmottan in Paris, France. While most of my fellow classmates hurried over to Monet’s Water Lilies, Japanese Bridge, or the infamous Sun Rising (is this the real one?!), I caught myself standing in front of this painting and unable to walk away. For some reason or another, the women on the beach remind me of Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Although the woman’s face is quite simple, the direction she looks gives me the feeling that she is engulfed in thought. While the other people on the beach seem preoccupied with the normal attractions of the beach, this woman is different. I picture her dreaming of independence and feeling the constraint of society. Like Edna, the woman isn’t focused on her child or a man. She is alone and confident and unamused by society around her. The ocean looms in the background. While the woman’s back is turned away from the waves, I imagine that she could hear their crashing against the sand like freedom. I’ve always read the end of The Awakening as a triumphant suicide, almost like Antigone.  The waves in Monet’s painting are in the background, but their presence is unforgettable. The woman is constantly thinking of them. However, she is unable to decide if that is where her fate lies and so she turns her back trying to ignore their call until a decision is made. As this ran through my head, I took out my camera to take a picture. I hoped that finding a picture of the painting in my iphoto collection would remind me of my little story even once I returned to the states. Instead, it attracted the security guard and I ended up embarrassing myself.  Typical tourist, right?



One Response to “REFLECTION 4: On the Beach at Trouville”

  1. cécile July 3, 2011 at 9:57 am #

    Interesting link with a literary text. This suicide and “Sehnsucht” could also remind us of Madame Bovary. By the way, you could also notice that the woman’s hair is similar to the girl’s. It seems to show that she’s still a child herself, maybe a “victim” of a strict and traditional society that forces women into motherhood. Is this why she’s dreaming of an escape?

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