In the movie The Blue Angel, a professor falls in love with a cabaret performer. He loses all common sense, becomes obsessed with her and even marries her. This is the story of a man destroying his career, his dignity and self- respect for the sexual desire of a woman. The supreme irony is the theme song with these lyrics,
Falling in love againWhat am I to do?
What am I to do?
Can’t help it.
The theme of men destroying themselves by infatuation masquerading as love seems to haunt me more than any other.
I’ve just read two novels side by side and the coincidence of this theme cropping up is uncanny.
Nana by Emile Zola and The Bad Girl by Mario Varga Llosa.
After finishing the book The Bad Girl, I felt that this is the ultimate love story. A love story to surpass all other love stories. Coming from me, someone who hates love stories it is strange
Similarly Nana by Zola is a story about women who live on the edge.
Nana is a courtesan in Paris circa 1870. She finds fame and fortune and success because of her beauty and personality and is irresistible to men.
The bad girl, is a pathological liar. She is pursued over the period of a lifetime by the narrator.. She is constantly renewing herself (different name, different life history) whilst remaining to the core a “ bad girl”. She craves wealth and seeks out wealthy men who will satisfy that craving rather than love. She is easily bored and eventually feels trapped in any relationship. Her behaviour flaunts all legal and moral standards and her craving for excitement leads her to a dangerous relationship that in the end destroys her.
Similarly, Nana who is courted and loved by many wealthy and influential men feels no love for them and uses them ruthlessly. She is incredibly beautiful and equally promiscuous. She counts her conquests of successful and influential men as a measure of her success in life. One day she falls for a brutal and uncouth actor. Their relationship becomes one of slave (Nana) and master. She is beaten, abused and finally kicked out.
The “bad girl” similarly becomes the sex toy/ slave of a Japanese Yakuza crime boss who destroys her self – respect and breaks her spirit. While Nana is driven to poverty, brutality and humiliation by her “master” who is the love of her life, the “bad girl” verges on the edge of death as a result of abuse by her “master”. It is ironic that “the bad girl” claims that what she feels for this man is the closest she has come to feeling love for a man..
Both Nana and “the bad girl” are stricken with illness and premature death.
Why do I have a fascination with bad girls?You tell me.