Many of the play's best lines (such as the wry comment by Dumas fils that his prodigal father "was a child I had when I was very young") are lifted almost verbatim from the memoirs of Dumas pere and other sources.
Dumas fils spends much of the play agonizing over his racial identity, a concept that would have been foreign to the real Dumas fils.
Finally, his splendid constitution failed him, and at 68, he turned up, penniless, on his son Alexandre's doorstep, saying, "I've come to die in your home." Dumas fils
had in turn become a highly successful writer--La Dame aux camelias (1848) being his best-known work--and was a rather more conventional man than his father.
As Marguerite's bad blood is expelled in repeated and wrenching fits of coughing as well as under her doctors' knives, we see once again at work the implacable gendered medical logic of bleeding emblematized earlier on in Louise's fate that befalls the female sexual sinner in Dumas fils's world.
For what becomes clear as Armand's narrative unfolds is that, seeking to secure a place among his literary peers and forefathers, Dumas fils refashions, in a particularly striking and culturally resonant manner, the literary trope of passion fatale as poison and disease, injecting it with new--albeit tainted--blood, the blood of the contaminated and contagious courtesan.
(1) Dumas fils draws on a number of intertextual models which he acknowledges early on in the novel 65-66.
Critics usually comment briefly on how Dumas fils uses consumption as a convenient way of disposing of his heroine.
I will argue here that the thrust of Dumas fils' text is to demystify, denounce, and warn against the dangers of such a romanticized view.
This is indeed the therapeutic strategy Duval pere employs towards Marguerite, the agent of Armand's contamination, and towards Armand, and "contrainte morale" is also the textual strategy Dumas fils employs vis-a-vis his readers.
For a detailed study of the way in which Dumas fils's novel draws on and positions itself in relation to this trope as actualized in Manon Lescaut, Romantic mal du siecle confessional recits such as Adolphe, and Romantic rehabilitation stories, see my "(Re)Writing."
Five years later, Alexandre Dumas fils
wrestles with these same anxieties in new ways, in his fantasized vision of the fictional demi-monde, as defined in La Dame aux camelias.
Playwright who, with Emile Augier and Alexandre Dumas fils
, dominated the French stage in the late 19th century and is still remembered as a craftsman of bourgeois drama of a type belittled by George Bernard Shaw as "Sardoodledom." Sardou's work Les Pattes de mouche (1860; A Scrap of Paper) is a model of the well-made play.