La Traviata

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La Traviata

La Traviata
A Commentary

The film La Triviata displayed a fundamental romantic attack on conventional bourgeois morals, arguing that a good heart is more important than social acceptance, that the distinctions which split the beau monde (socially elite) from the demimonde (courtesans) are harsh and hypocritical, and that true love must triumph over all.  Alfredos father destroyed this relationship when he pays visit to Violetta and request she break off the relationship with his son.  Alfredos sister is engaged to be married, but if word of his affair with Violetta were to get out, the engagement would be terminated.  During this time even the most respectful families would not even want to associate with another family in which one of the members was entangled with such a sinful person.  This demonstrates that marriage is viewed as a business arrangement put together by families, rather than by the love between two people.

Like the characters in the film, women in the 19th century didnt have many choices in life.  They were expected to get married and be supported by a husband.  For those few who didnt sometimes became prostitutes or if they were lucky, courtesans.  Any woman who slept with a man before marriage was thought to be ruined (unfit to wed), and should be shunned as a social outcast.  For many such women prostitution was a means of survival.  Violetta represents the extent of female independence in the 19th century.  She uses men to survive by accepting gifts and money, but she is not trapped in the legal repression of marriage.  Violettas life is filled with parties and wealthy male companions provide her with far more excitement in life than would the traditional role of marriage.  However, Violettas choice is misleading, for she knows that a woman in this time cant go against tradition without facing severe repercussions.

Contradictions and hypocrisy was prevalent between the lives and values of the bourgeois gentlemen.  Prostitution and gambling were extremely popular and widespread, at the same time they were being publically condemned.  Men were expected to have mistresses whom they supported financially; but they were expected to conceal that fact, and they were expected not to fall in love with them.  Such courtesans as Violetta are not classed with common prostitutes, but there should be not delusion about their motivation for participating in these affairs: they were in it for the financial gain of the business.

Life in the 19th century was not easy for women.  Choices were, at best, limited and society was hypocritical.  In the end, as this film portrayed marriage was a financial transaction and love was sadly forbidden.