Essay on Herculine Barbin

1070 Words Sep 27th, 2012 5 Pages
Michelle Kim
September 28, 2012
HIST 312

Response Paper on Foucault

Upon reading Herculine Barbin, it helped me understand the difficulties in which Herculine had, living as a hermaphrodite living in his century, as it is still very difficult to lead such a life now. However, many parts of the reading were ambiguous because she never exactly mentions the condition of her body or what kind of sickness she is exactly suffering from. Although she always mentions the fact that she is suffering and in a great deal of pain, she only goes as far to describe the way she looks from the outside and how the others perceive her sickness.
In the beginning of the novel, I can’t help but be confused about Herculine’s sexual identity. She
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She feels awkward in society and does not have the problem with the way she was living then. She believed that she was born to love but her identity change later on in the story was forcing her to love like a man.
Many times in the reading, Herculine relies on religion to get her through the sufferings. She is very pious and tries to fit into society and uses religion to relieve herself of the outside world. She feels guilty toward the world with regards to what is happening to herself. She wants acceptance or change but at the same time she also wants answers. When she confesses for the first time, she is shocked to find the priest, Abbe H, who is very close and associated with Madame P’s family, throwing insults and terrifying words at her. That was the deciding factor that leads her to secrecy and more uncertainty over her body. However, later she finds people who encourage her and aid her with her disease. One specific person would be Monsieur de Saint M. He is the one who urges her to go off and tells her the instructions as to what to do in order to cure of her disease. Never does he once put her down. He treats Herculine like his own and on his deathbed, Monsieur de Saint M is proud of Herculine and Herculine seems to be thankful toward him. He was like a father figure to her and he led her to live more true to her self.
However, even after she undergoes a change to her body, Barbin undergoes obstacles to try to fit in with her new identity and body.

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