Is Beauplaisir All Powerful?

During the first part of the story “Fantomina” it seems as if the lady has a new-found power when she takes her first role as Fantomina. She has all the men wanting to be with her and she takes pleasure in knowing that she can turn them all down (2567). The lady briefly has power until she meets Beauplaisir and from the story we are told it seems that she never has power again. From the moment Beauplaisir asks for her services, Fantomina gives into him by going home with him the next night and not denying him like all the other men. He is already demonstrating his power over her and how he is able to get what he wants out of life.

We then see Beauplaisir physically demonstrate his power over Fantomina when he forces her to have sex with him that first night together and takes her liberty away from her (2569). After this Fantomina tells Beauplaisir that “[his] love alone can compensate for the shame [he has] involved [her] in” and that she would be able to “forgive [herself]” for what has happened between the two of them (2570). We can see the power that he has over the lady when she is forgiving herself for what he has done to her, but we can also see the lady try to regain control of the situation by using what happened to her to her own advantage. She wants to guilt Beauplaisir into loving her. The lady thinks that she has gained power in the relationship but it is Beauplaisir that ultimately grows bored of their relationship and leaves her once again demonstrating that he had the power this entire time.

The lady never gives up on trying to be with Beauplaisir and disguises herself as two more women just so she can be with him. He remains having full control of those relationships as he did when he was with Fantomina. We see the lady try to regain power over Beauplaisir one last time by becoming her last disguise, Incognita. She plays on the fact that he loves mystery and new adventures to intrigue him. She tells herself that “is he [cannot] content himself with that which she was willing to reveal, and which was the conditions of their meeting, dear as he was to her, she would rather part with him for ever than consent to gratify an inquisitiveness (2581).” The lady has a plan set out for herself so that she can either have control over the relationship by only giving Beauplaisir what she wants to give him or by ending their affair once and for all. The only problem with her plan is she doesn’t do go through with parting ways with him when he doesn’t follow the rules of the meeting and wants to know Incognita’s true identity.

And if that wasn’t proof enough that the lady has absolutely no power in her and Beauplaisir’s relationship, she becomes pregnant with his child. The lady tells her mother who the father of the baby is and sends for him (2583). Sadly, after being with the lady as four different women, he still doesn’t recognize her at all when she is giving birth to his own child. This shows his obvious lack of care for her since he has slept with her multiple times and different women and he doesn’t even have the slightest clue who she is now.

Although when we are first introduced to the lady she has a new-found power in her alternate identity of Fantomina, it is not long before she loses her power to Beauplaisir in a multitude of ways. He takes control of her physically and emotionally again and again so he can get what he wants out of life without being held down. Beauplaisir had the power over her the entire time and she didn’t even realize it.

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