The short story: https://americanliterature.com/author/guy-de-maupassant/short-story/the-diary-of-a-madman
“Why is it not Intoxicating to kill!”
The Diary of a Madman, a short story by Guy de Maupassant. Published in the novel Gil Blas in October 1886. This short story follows a diary of a madman, as suggested in the title. This madman, was a judge, the head of a high tribunal. A man who fell ill with an obsession to kill, and to execute by his own hands. This short story has a use of the gothic protagonist, as well as common tones and moods. With a very contrasting personality, in a place of power, and driven by his overriding emotions. Also showing this need to know or experience kind of nature.
The Gothic Protagonist can be interrupted by many things. In the main character; the narrator of the story, we can see he has this split personality. As a judge of a high tribunal, he also holds a higher position of power. He also becomes driven by overriding emotions, which enhances his madness.
The author uses many ways throughout the short story to establish that the man has this split personality, this madness to him. This short story also is written in first person, which can enhance the element of the gothic protagonist. He firstly states, “I have just left court. I have condemned Blondel to death! Now, why did this man kill his five children?” The way he spoke about that shows that he disapproves this act of killing, and he should as he is a judge. To condemn someone is to say they disapprove their actions. They are dangerous, hazardous and unsafe. Then in the way, he questions the person’s actions shows that he can not understand. Yet following this sentence, he says, “Frequently one meets with people to whom the destruction of life is a pleasure. Yes, yes, it should be a pleasure, the greatest of all…” Completely opposing what he first said. Saying to kill should be a pleasure. He goes on talking about ‘what a pleasure it would be to kill’ and why it should be ‘intoxicating’. With these ideas in his head, he then deems it to be ok. This showing he is only doing so with his emotions and not logic. He states this, “Why then is it a crime to kill? Yes, why? On the contrary, it is the law of nature. The mission of every being is to kill; he kills to live, and he kills to kill.” If you think of something and ponder on it for a long time, you start to think it is ok. Whether it may not be. You deem it to be ok whether it is morally or not, this is what he did.
When I first started reading I didn’t know what to think. He was a judge. He sent people to get executed for murdering others. Thinking he would be a person completely against killing, and innocent people too. Then he becomes completely obsessed with it, making it ‘ok’ in his mind. The way he talks about it is horrifying. How, or if someone really was thinking about these things. Especially in the place of power they held. I think its cause to people now it is seen as such an inhumane thing to so. More so during this time compared to their time. They executed innocent people off, killed slaves, killed many people in wars. It was less of an incident to how it is seen now, which is so sad to think.
My second element is common tones and moods. The tone is the attitude or view given by the narrator of the story. While the mood is what the audience feels when reading, hearing or watching a piece of text. In this short story, we see a lot of personal addition from the narrator. This being also in first person, creating a large use of tone.
With his overcoming will to kill, he talks in such a way to describe himself and his feelings. He continues on only falling more into his madness and needless to say, thirst to kill. He says this, as one diary entry, “The temptation has come to me. It pervades my whole being; my hands tremble with the desire to kill.” The way he talks shows so much of how he feels towards this madness that’s overcome him. As he says ‘me’ and ‘my’, also adds to the effect of this. As he continues to tell him its ok, he looks at himself and his position. Only making himself accept his desire even more. Then saying, “I, who have passed my life in judging, condemning, killing by the spoken word, killing by the guillotine those who had killed by the knife, I, I, if I should do as all the assassins have done…” This again shows his thoughts and feelings. It shows that he almost feels responsible, or may as well be responsible. Showing that he feels he may as well take to his desire. With also an overuse of ‘I’, showing an enhancement of his feelings and thoughts.
He sounds so crazy and out of his mind. For him to convince himself it’s ok to do as the people before him had. It was scary and almost terrifying for me to read over. The way he talks about it and the language he uses is unseemly frightening. And the way he is so up front and almost aggressive about it, gives me doubt in it.
How the author built up the character; the narrator of the story made such a prominent feature. It had created such a disgusted and horrifying feeling for me. Reminding me of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, The Tell-Tale Heart. Following a story of an ill man who has a need to kill. The language used seemed very unstructured and informal. Yet it created such an impact on how I saw the narrators characteristics. Making this short story a horrifying read.