The Place of Black individuals in French Society of the 18th and 19th centuries

As observed in Ourika by Claire de Duras


  • Nathanael Lapierre University of Central Florida



The black individual had a unique role in nineteenth-century France and was treated as inferior. The global presence of slavery, as well as racism in French society, objectified black individuals, turning them into a symbol of French power and conquest. The exploration of this project will focus on the symbolic representation of the black individual and his societal role in the nineteenth century as presented through the tale Ourika by Claire de Duras.

Ourika recounts the experience of a young black Senegalese girl bought into slavery and raised in France under the tutelage of a wealthy Frenchwoman. Throughout the story, the French perception of the black individual is revealed as we follow the young heroine's growth and observe the discovery of her place in French society. Through an analysis of Ourika, focusing on her evolving perspective of her position in French society and the treatment she receives from French characters, I will create a relationship between Duras's novel and the social characteristics of France in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This research analyzes Ourika in three parts, an overview of eighteenth and nineteenth-century France, an inspection of Ourika's acquisition, and how Ourika's perception of her race is altered after she surrenders. realize that she is different from her contemporaries. In each section, we will contextualize aspects of the narrative to French history to better understand the treatment of black people at the time.





Social Sciences & Humanities