The Subject of Women in Proust
On first reading, Proust's narrative in A la Recherche du temps perdu suggests that women are merely objects in Marcel's development. Despite extensive descriptions and metaphors, female characters seem to slip away from concrete definition, defying assured characterization. Moreover, most critical discussions of women in Proust compartmentalize female characters either as “Madonnas” (Marcel’s mother and grandmother) or “whores” (Odette, Gilberte, Albertine, Léa, Rachel). But how are women in Proust's fiction more than just objects? Given their centrality to the text, a reexamination of the ways in which Proust writes female characters is overdue.