Affective Capital and Social Struggle in Dumas père’s Angèle

Set soon after the July Revolution of 1830, Alexandre Dumas père’s unjustly neglected drama Angèle reflects explicitly upon the unstable époque in which it was created. In his Mémoires, Dumas depicts the July Revolution as the product of an overpowering experience of emotion within social networks. Unsurprisingly, then, his play figures the period’s political upheavals via a series of romantic relationships in which affect trumps all other forms of social capital. This point is underlined by Dumas’s representation of his two leading male characters, Alfred D’Alvimar and Henri Muller, and by their reception in Angèle’s own time. Critics from across the July Monarchy’s political spectrum rejected the cynical D’Alvimar and embraced the touching Muller in order to bolster their own positions. Through its portrayal of affective capital as a tool in social struggle, Angèle not only reflected but also took part in a revolutionary process of transformation.

Roberta Barker
Volume 2013 (41.3-4)