Emotion as Sensation and Feeling in Maupassant’s La PeurSimay Turan
The argumentation process is not exclusive to non-fictional texts. On the contrary, it has coexisted with narrative since the early stages of human history. From an anthropological point of view, primitive societies imposed social prohibitions and laws through narrative discourses - such as myths - to avoid a possible crisis within society and to ensure homo sapiens survival. In considering the narrative aspect of the argument, it would be appropriate to assume that literary discourse can constitute a certain argumentative reality. This article seeks to discover and verify the way a character affects its extratextual reader through the argumentation process. In Guy de Maupassant’s La Peur, a group of soldiers discuss the true meaning of the emotion of fear: indeed, they argue about it. The ethos constructed by the storytelling character and his way of expressing his emotions leads us to discover how fear’s literary expression can metamorphose into different states, like sensation and feeling, for the sake of making the storyteller legitimate in his discourse. The methodology of this article is based on narrative, enunciative and discursive analyzes to identify the argumentative reality in Maupassant’s La Peur.
Emotion en tant que sensation et sentiment dans La Peur de MaupassantSimay Turan
La présence de l’argumentation n’est pas exclusive aux textes non-fictifs. Tout au contraire, elle est incluse dans la narration depuis la nuit des temps. De point de vue anthropologique, les sociétés primitives imposaient les interdictions et les lois sociales par l’intermédiaire des discours narratifs -tels que les mythes- afin d’éviter les crises possibles au sein de la société et d’assurer la survie de l’homo sapiens sapiens. Partant de cet aspect narratif de l’argumentation, il serait adéquat de supposer que le discours littéraire pourrait constituer une réalité argumentative. Ladite supposition est à vérifier à l’aide de cet article qui vise à découvrir la manière dont un personnage littéraire intratextuel touche son lecteur extratextuel en construisant un ethos discursif dans les limites de l’argumentation. Dans La Peur de Guy de Maupassant, multiples locuteurs discutent sur le sens véritable de l’émotion de la peur : en effet, on y argumente dessus. L’ethos construit par le personnage du conteur et son expression de l’émotion servent à révéler comment la peur peut se métamorphoser en différents états tels que la sensation et le sentiment de manière à rendre légitime le conteur. En conclusion, l’article adopte en tant que méthodologie l’analyse des procédés narratifs, énonciatifs et discursifs afin de dégager la dimension et la puissance argumentatives d’un texte littéraire.
According to Alain Rabatel, the argumentation process is far from being limited to neutral reasoning which banishes the speaker’s passions. On the contrary, argumentation, and narration only make sense in relation to each other. According to anthropological studies, before narration became the literary domain’s aesthetical object, it answered the purpose of avoiding crises endangering homo sapiens survival. Communication in a primitive society is achieved first by the narrativization of certain social laws - such as myths - which make explicit the prohibitions within a society. In this context, this article proposes to analyze the argumentative side of literary texts. In our case, the literary character’s personality, attitude, posture, and feelings are manifested through the narration process. At this point, the ethos,known as the identity constructed through discourse, has a crucial weight in the argumentation process in the narrative context. To examine the argumentative process through which a speaker conveys his emotion of fear, this article will study La Peur, one of the short stories of Maupassant, who is renowned for his writings in the fantastic genre. In this short story, a group of soldiers, a commander and a storyteller discuss the concept of fear. The story’s plot is based on a discussion of semantics. In the discussion, the commander claims that he experienced fear when his ship ran onto the rocks. The storyteller disagrees with the commanders meaning of fear by stating that fear is real when it becomes a physical sensation or a lasting feeling. Therefore, he establishes his ethos by maintaining himself as a person who has real experiences about this very emotion.
It seems useful to introduce the notions of emotion, sensation, and feeling at this time. Emotion is considered an involuntary behavior experienced simultaneously in the body. In other words, it is a brief response to an external stimulus whereas sensation is a phenomenon by which physiological stimulation provokes a specific physiological reaction. Feeling, on the other hand, settles over a certain period. It is a complex emotional state, fairly stable and lasting depending on the genetic, cultural, and intellectual background of the individual.
In La Peur, the storyteller establishes for himself a brave ethos built by war, condemnation, and torture sequences through the instrument of grammatical tenses such as imperfect and conditional, and the connector “but”. His argumentative steps try to prove that fear is hard to forget once you feel it. This unforgettable aspect of fear turns into a long-term feeling, therefore, contributes to the establishment of the storyteller’s ethos. He tells two anecdotes that he uses to illustrate fear’s development in his mind. His first anecdote takes place in Africa, in a wide-reaching desert. After a violent windstorm, followed by a mysterious drum sound, his companion falls off his horse and dies. The storyteller sees this event as the moment when he understands what it is like to be afraid and feel multiple sensations. But according to him, fear is something greater than that, which is why he introduces a second anecdote referring to the night of the second anniversary of a murder committed by an old man. Accompanied by a disastrous rain, the storyteller goes to an old forest guard’s family house for dinner.
The living room is dark, family members act awkwardly, and the haunted-looking family dog is possessed by the fear that surrounds them. The storyteller indicates that the fear is now a stable feeling that manifests on each anniversary of the murder as this family has experienced it the very first time.
In conclusion, because the final reaction of the storyteller’s interlocutor doesn’t appear at the end of the story, it seems possible that Maupassant wants the final reaction to belong to his reader. When the ethos established by the passions’ argumentation affects readers, the story opens itself to its public with an emotional and emphatic aspect. Therefore, literary discourse ends by going beyond the framework of the imaginary to create a certain reality where reason and passion break the boundaries holding them apart.