Main Article Content
The paper analyses the image of female domestic servants and their condition as unmarried women in three examples of nineteenth-century French literature: A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert (1875), Germinie Lacerteux (1865) by Edmond and Jules de Goncourt and Diary of a Chamber-maid (1900) by Octave Mirbeau. The protagonists of these stories represent interesting versions of stereotypical images present in a great number of contemporary works: the life of a loyal and sacrificed servant (Flaubert), the sad history of a servant succumbing to sexual temptations (E. and J, de Goncourt) and the subversive portrait of a perverted chambermaid, exploited by and exploiting their masters at the same time (Mirbeau). The common trait of the three women is their solitude, as service means for them to remain unmarried, unable to realize the role considered
socially as the only proper for a woman.