Recall Napoleon and Josephine’s story (from chapter 6 of Brogaard 2015). Do you think that Josephine unconsciously loved Napoleon before realizing it? Why, or why not? Is there a different explanation for her behavior? Give examples.
In order to address the question of whether Josephine unconsciously loved Napoleon before realizing it, it is important to analyze their relationship dynamics and examine Josephine’s behavior. While it is difficult to ascertain the true nature of one’s unconscious feelings, we can explore various factors that may shed light on her emotional state.
Firstly, it is important to note that Josephine had been married before meeting Napoleon. Her previous marriage to Alexandre de Beauharnais resulted in two children but ended with his execution during the French Revolution. This traumatic experience may have left Josephine emotionally vulnerable and cautious about falling in love again.
When Josephine and Napoleon first met, it was during a time when political alliances and marriages were common ways to solidify power and social status. Josephine’s initial attraction to Napoleon could be partially attributed to his rising military career and his promise of stability and status. In this context, it is possible that her initial attraction was more strategic than emotional.
However, as their relationship progressed, there were signs that Josephine’s feelings for Napoleon had deepened beyond mere convenience. For instance, in her letters to Napoleon, Josephine expressed a sense of longing and emotional attachment. She wrote, “My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of the incomparable Josephine kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart.”
These words convey a sense of genuine affection and desire for Napoleon, suggesting that Josephine had developed emotional attachment towards him. It is plausible to argue that these feelings may have been rooted in her unconscious love for him, especially given the intensity and sincerity of her expressions.
Furthermore, Josephine’s behavior and actions also support the notion that she loved Napoleon. She played an active role in supporting his ambitions and assisting him in his political endeavors, even when it meant going against her own interests. Josephine was instrumental in maintaining and securing alliances with other influential individuals, which contributed to Napoleon’s rise to power. This level of dedication and commitment suggests a deep emotional investment in Napoleon’s success.
Additionally, it is worth considering the impact of their physical intimacy on Josephine’s feelings. Physical affection and sexual intimacy can often intensify emotional connections between individuals. The letters exchanged by Josephine and Napoleon reveal a strong physical attraction and desire for one another. Josephine wrote to Napoleon, “Adored and adoring man! Two days I have not spent in loving you, so much am I overwhelmed with love for you and the heart burns… Come, hasten the moments for receiving my caresses and for uttering the softest words of love.” These passionate and intimate expressions indicate a strong emotional bond between them, which further supports the notion of Josephine’s unconscious love for Napoleon.
Despite these arguments in favor of Josephine’s unconscious love for Napoleon, it is important to consider alternative explanations for her behavior. One possible explanation is that Josephine’s actions were driven solely by pragmatism and a desire for personal gain. As mentioned earlier, she had experienced the loss of her first husband and may have been wary of fully opening her heart to another man. Josephine’s calculated involvement in politics and her assistance to Napoleon could be interpreted as a means to secure her own position and protect herself from further harm.
In conclusion, while it is challenging to definitively determine whether Josephine unconsciously loved Napoleon before realizing it, there is evidence to support this premise. Her expressions of longing and emotional attachment in her letters, her commitment to supporting Napoleon’s ambitions, and the intensity of their physical intimacy all point towards a deep emotional connection. However, it is important to recognize that alternative explanations, such as personal gain and pragmatism, may also play a role in Josephine’s behavior. Further research and analysis of primary sources would be necessary to fully understand the nuances of Josephine’s feelings towards Napoleon.