Marie Antoinette's Sacrifice and the Fragmentation of French Femininity

  • Olivia Fuson Creighton University
Keywords: Marie Antoinette, René Girard, French Revolution, feminism


Maligned and misunderstood for over two hundred years, Marie Antoinette gains new life in this essay, which examines the circumstances that led to her death and cemented her legacy. This essay applies the Girardian idea of mimetic violence—the idea that man is constantly in competition with one another over objects of mutual desire—to the trial and execution of Marie Antoinette to explain the necessity of her sacrifice as an outlet for the tensions that plagued French society in the midst of Revolution in 1793.  Exploring Antoinette's role as a sacrificial figure reveals how and why her identity became so fragmented and contradictory. Additionally, an analysis of the complex nature of her sacrifice provides insight into the radical repression of women that was triggered by her death, linking her execution to the evolution of French feminism and womanhood in the centuries to come.

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