Books and Movies Reviews

Trial of Madame Caillaux

Book Review of The Trial of Madame Caillaux
The period leading up to World War I in France was a time in which war was a pressing issue, and men were trying to regain their "supermasculinity" after coming back from a miserable defeat in the Franco-Prussian war.Deemed the "trial of the century," the Caillaux Affair presented itself as a trial not ordinarily witnessed.The trial of Madame Caillaux and her murder of journalist Henry Calmette not only served as a distraction to the impending war, but it also symbolized Belle Epoque culture to its core.Edward Berenson interweaves the trial with French society's attitudes by incorporating courtroom antics to express Belle Epoque's values, irony to justify men's false presumption of their superiority to women, and drama to capture the reader's feelings
Although the book is supposed to be about the trial surrounding the murder of Henry Calmette, Bereson primarily uses the courtroom antics of the characters as examples of Belle Epoque and French culture.With each chapter a specific characteristic of French society is explained in detail.However, the main underlying theme of the novel is the importance of gender in Belle Epoque society and how it affected the trial.Berenson expresses gender not just in terms of men versus women in terms of biological roles, but rather describes their roles and perceived idealistic roles in society during this time period.These perceived roles, consequently, are major factors in the case of surrounding the Madame Caillaux trial.The defense tries to exploit French society's belief
in the crime passionnel.The prosecution, on the other hand, wants to portray Henriette Caiullaux as a woman of masculinity who could not, therefore, commit a crime based on emotion but rather on premeditation.Berenson adds that because of this obsession with gender roles, men at this time try to prevent the feminist…

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