Mateo falcone and tamango

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  • Publié le : 12 juin 2010
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Although “Mateo Falcone” and “Tamango” are both short stories Mérimée still achieves in-depth characterisation of the title characters and the other protagonists, through various means such as detailed descriptions of physical features and ideas as well as the use of dialogue.
The detailed description of Mateo Falcone at the beginning of the story is an example of how Mérimée achievescharacterisation. This level of detail initially appears unnecessary, especially as Mateo himself is not present again until the end of the story, but it becomes essential to understand Mateo’s actions at the end. Mérimée begins the tale with a description of the hostile Corsican landscape and the connection of the “maquis” to Mateo contributes to his characterisation as a formidable man. Mateo isdescribed as “un homme petit mais robust” and the harshness and resilience of the landscape seems to be reflected in Mateo’s character. The story of Mateo’s murder of a rival makes the reader even more wary. Mérimée gives some detail of this part of Mateo’s past and the phrase “il s’était débarrassé fort rigoureusement d’un rival” reinforces his characterisation as a man who should be feared. Mérimée’sdescription of his shooting skill which “passait pour extraordinaire” reinforces this idea and also establishes the idea of reputation.
This idea of reputation and family honour being of the utmost importance to Mateo is essential in understanding his actions at the end of the story. Mérimée’s emphasis on the fact that Fortunato, as the only son, is “l’espoir de sa famille, l’inheritier du nom”becomes increasingly important as the story progresses. We see this idea developed at the end of the tale, where Fortunato’s actions have enormous implications on Mateo. We do not see extensive dialogue from Mateo but there are three key phrases that are essential in the characterisation of Mateo. “Cet enfant est-il de moi?” shows Mateo in disbelief that a son of his could betray his ideas ofhonour and reputation. This is developed in his next statement of “cet enfant est la première de sa race qui ait fait une trahison” which demonstrates the implications of Fortunato’s actions as “sa race” suggests a background of family honour. Mateo’s statement of “je suis son père” is his simple justification for killing Fortuanto and demonstrates his concept of honour and authority ultimately lyingwith him, as the patriarch.
Whereas Mérimée primarily achieves the characterisation of Mateo through description, Fortunato’s character is developed primarily through dialogue which establishes him as mischievous, devious and disrespectful towards figures of authority. Mérimée immediately warns the reader that Fortunato does not uphold the same values as his father through the description of hisdaydream of dining with his uncle “le corporal” in town, showing his concern with wealth and town life which is at odds with his father’s life in the maquis. This idea is developed when Fortuanto only accepts to hide Sanpiero when offered money and when he accepts the watch from Gamba, betraying his father. The watch scene is instrumental in achieving characterisation as Mérimée slows the pace ofthe narrative and focuses on Fortunato’s state of mind as he stares at the watch. The appeal of material wealth and associated power and status to Fortunato is shown by “le cadran était azure… la boite nouvellement fourbie… au soleil elle paraissait toute de feu” where the watch becomes a beautiful and glorious item and Fortunato inevitably succumbs to the temptation. Fortunato’s values are notthe same as his father’s and from the previous description of Mateo we understand the implications of this. Although Fortunato is a key protagonist in the tale he does not seem to be an individual, as Mateo is. When questioned by Gamba, Fortunato repeats on two occasions “mon père est Mateo Falcone”. This shows Fortunato hiding behind the reputation of his father and therefore Mateo’s presence is...