The Lady of the Camellias written by Alexendre Dumas is a novel that was published in 1948 and thereafter adapted for the stage performance. Later it was put into music due to its instant success as a play. The main character is Marguerite Gautier that is based on Marie Duplesis who is the true and real lover of the author of the novel.
The main theme of ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ is love and it revolves around Marguerite Gautier who according to the story, is known to be kept by different lovers and frequently more than one at a time. She is suffering from tuberculosis which is referred to as the "phtisie" in the novel. The second character is Armand Duval who is a young provincial bourgeois.
To begin with Armand becomes a lover to Marguerite Gautier and succeeds to convince her to go to the countryside to live there. Though Marguerite accepts his love, she insists to Armand that the affair should be secret and that nobody should get word of it.
Armand again starts waiting for a true love from a woman that is willing to accept his love and settle. Armand still follows Marguerite to an idyllic country house where duke takes her. Armand is displayed as a desperate man in need of a woman who is ready to leave her treasures and come to live with him in the countryside.
In the second act, Armand resumes to his story because of Marguerite’s summer straw hat. This time Marguerite is surrounded by friends and secret admirers and despite all these, she continues with her turbulent life in the countryside.
Armand and duke confront each other and this becomes a time when Marguerite has to make a decision on who to love. And in this episode, Marguerite acknowledges in public that she loves Armand and at last, Marguerite and Armand remain alone. The father to Armand succeeds in breaking this relationship as he says that his son cannot marry a prostitute and Marguerite Gautier, though she protests, leaves Armand alone when she reflects on the line of secret admirers.
Nanina later comes with a letter informing him that Marguerite had gone back to her former life of changing lovers every now and then; Armand feels bad about it and goes to Paris where he meets duke and Marguerite being in love.
In the third act, Armand informs his father how he had met Marguerite again, and of how she was in a company of a beautiful courtesan Olympia, of how he plotted a move to hurt Marguerite’s feelings by plotting to flirt and seduce Olympia. Marguerite again comes later and cuts him off from this relationship and the two become in love again. This happens until Marguerite remembers the confrontation she had with Armand’s father and the promise she had made to him, then she quickly leaves Armand alone. Armand decides to humiliate her in public by paying Marguerite for her services in the past. Marguerite collapses. At this junction Marguerite is left lonely as the big crowd gets away and Armand also disappears from her life.
The father to Armand is happy to hear this and he leaves as Nanina again comes with news of how valued Armand was in Marguerite’s life. Later Marguerite dies alone and Armand closes the diary containing the news slowly and the play ends.
There is also the theme of suffering where we see Armand is devoted to loving Marguerite. In the conversations, Armand tries to humble himself down in order to gain Marguerite's favour and find love in her, Marguerite on the other side is careless in the way she treats this young man. Marguerite feels she loves this man but doesn’t know how to best love him because her lifestyle is different. Armand is suffering because every time he loves, something comes in the middle and he is the one that looses all the time. He is forced to separate with his love Marguerite by the father who seems to put much interest in his pride and doesn’t allow his son to get married to a prostitute and that his daughter may not be married because of this. Despite Marguerite having many lovers from time to time, Armand keeps silent on this and focuses on how to get Marguerite’s love forever. When Marguerite dies, Armand looses hope that all is gone.
The theme of materialism is also displayed by the author of the novel. We see Marguerite changing lovers every now and then. She is materialistic in nature as most women of these days. She wants to be in company of men of fashionable society and these are Counts and Duke. When she meets a middle class young man called Armand, she wants to make this relationship secret so that she can continue with her life with many rich admirers. Armand falls jealously in love and breaks all her conventions.
Immorality is also displayed as a major theme in this story. This is seen when Marguerite keeps on jumping from one relationship to another without having to respect herself as a human being. A first, we see her in company of rich men and when Armand comes along, she leaves the others to follow him. This is not the end, when the father gets light of this relationship; he dismantles it all and manages to get Marguerite out of his son’s life. Again she goes back to Paris and falls in love with Duke. Of course, Armand is sad at this and we again see him falling in love with Marguerite the second time. Later towards the end of the novel, immorality goes to public when Armand hands and decides to humiliate Marguerite by handing her an envelope of cash for past services. Marguerite is humiliated as she is left alone whereas she was enjoying a company of friends.
The theme of death is brought out in the novel. The love of Armand dies and resurrects most of time in the novel. All the friendships that Marguerite had with her lovers and the general died when at last Armand decides to kill the kind of relationship he had with Marguerite. Finally, Marguerite herself dies from tuberculosis when she is left alone.
The book relates very well with the music such as the Chopin because all of them seem to explain and bring out the theme of love and romance. Chopin music epitomizes a romantic style just like the ladies of Camellias brings out the themes of unending love of Armand to Marguerite. The other romantic music also tends to bring out a resemblance in the way love is displayed is the novel’ the ladies of the camellias. They show that true love is hard to come by and some time it may fail to reach its destiny. Many people struggle to find what they can call true love and even some are tricked into loving people who don’t have the same quantity and quality love they have for them. Such music displays the facts that love needs sacrifice.
Most of the nineteenth century music and novels is that they used to address special interest of the people who lived then. They were about romanticism which is neither situated in the subject chosen nor the exact truth but precisely in the way of feeling.
The music and novel of those times are also characterized by originality, genius and authorship. They involved creating from nothing and the music that followed is just derivatives of this original music. The music also brought about counter-enlightenment and emphasized imagination, intuition and feelings which made the romantic thinkers to be accused of irrationalism. It used to focus on nature or a place that is free from any societal views and restrictions.
This music also contained romantic literature putting emphasis on women and children and gave an isolation of the narrator. Other authors like Edgar Allan and Hawthome use to base their writings on the world of supernatural and even the human psychology. It is this romanticism that brought light to the marginalized societies of the world. The music also was also used to influence government actions and direct it toward achievement of peace. In other words, it was used to bring about nationalism like in Germany which long ago was in small states and later came to be one big sate. It also made it possible for different artists to come together in order to improve the music of the time.
Other novels that tend to bring out romanticism such as the one in the ladies of Camellias are ‘The Sorrows of Young Werther’ that made young people especially h youths throughout Europe to emulate the main character who had a lot of sensitivity and temperament. There is also another one titled ‘A Vision on the Shore of the Lethe’ this also expressed the theme of romanticism.
As a summary, the noel ‘The Lady of the Camellias’ is an example of the nineteenth century novel and it displays the literature of that century and clearly gives an insight into what the nineteenth century novel was like.