The Role Of Familial Violence In Marie-Claire Blais's Mad Shadows

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Marie-Claire Blais’s Mad Shadows explores the complex relationships within the dysfunctional family of Louise, her son Patrice, and her daughter Isabelle-Marie. Louise’s obsession with Patrice’s beauty causes Isabelle-Marie to be an outsider in her own family, which she cannot escape even as she gets married and has her own child, Anne, who strongly resembles Isabelle-Marie in circumstance and appearance. Mad Shadows incorporates a cycle of familial violence spurred on by jealousy and neglect; despite Isabelle-Marie’s attempts to break the cycle of violence in the final scene of the novel, her actions and destructive urges are already apparent in Anne, ensuring the continuation of violence in the family.
Parental neglect in Mad Shadows is portrayed as one of the major ways violence passes from the abuser to the victim within the cycle of violence. These methods of neglect are shown through Louise and Isabelle-Marie’s mistreatment of their daughters: while Louise resents Isabelle-Marie for her differences, Isabelle-Marie dislikes Anne’s similarities to herself. At the same time, Patrice functions as an extension of Louise; they share the same sense of shallow beauty, and Isabelle-Marie observes that Louise’s livelihood “rested on [the] solitary and fragile beauty” of Patrice (5). Isabelle-Marie, however, is incongruent with Louise’s conception of a perfect family, which leads to her ostracization. The neglect Isabelle-Marie experiences because of her appearance attracts her

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