Blais, Marie-Claire. Mad Shadows. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Inc., 1959.
More Than Skin Deep
Mad Shadows is a French Canadian novella written by Marie-Claire Blais and was published in 1959. This novella illustrates a dysfunctional family, where outer beauty reflects status and is deemed more significant than inner beauty. Louise is a mother who loves her son Patrice solely based on his flawless physical beauty, which in essence portrays her vanity and superficiality. On the other hand, Isabelle-Marie, the daughter and a character that is unattractive on the exterior, is deprived of her mother’s love due to her lack of physical beauty. The author uses irony and imagery
…show more content…
For instance, “…when she thought about what this child would become later on, an ugly duckling whom everyone would avoid, she was almost tempted to kill her” (91). Both Louise and Michael reject Isabelle-Marie due to her ugly features. Therefore, she does not want Anne to face the same future as her, which tempts Isabelle-Marie to put an end to her daughter’s life. Instead of changing this cyclical nature of superficiality, Isabelle-Marie is raising her daughter similar to Louise by abusing and mistreating Anne due to her ugly appearance. One would expect Isabelle-Marie to raise her daughter in an environment filled with love and affection, a life that she never got to experience. However, Louise plays an influential role in Isabelle-Marie’s life, which causes her to continue this chain of dysfunctionality where physical beauty is treated with more importance than love. The author presents religious and spiritual imagery of water ironically to tell her story. Water is commonly associated with purity and is sacred in baptism as it cleanses the original sin of Adam and Eve. Ironically, water is used to reflect immorality in Mad Shadows. Patrice portrays vanity as he stares at his reflection in the water: “[l]eaning over to look at his own body, he trembled feeling so contained, so handsome…The one quality which made him a man! Finally he raises his eyes, eternally confident in his own being” (20). Patrice stares at his reflection