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POD Final Response

French fantastique literature and the histories of the Arcade differentiate the public and private by showing how the private resists the public through the creation of private spaces and individualism and the how the public seeks to control the private through commodification and conformity. French fantastique literature shows the difference between the public and the private through ascertaining boundaries between them, so that a private space is established and protected. In the story of Cazotte’s Le Diable Amoureux, Alvaro lives for two months with a being that he thinks is an evil spirit, and yet, it appears and acts as a woman (Todorov 24). Alvaro asks where the being is from, and Biondetta answers: I am a sylphide by birth, and one of the most powerful among them (Todorov 24). Alvaro begins to wonder what is real and what is impossible. His reflection suggests the need of the private self to draw boundaries through logic. The fantastic questions this logic, which people fight off at first. Still, in theory, if Alvaro accepts Biondetta’s story as true, then he can also produce a new private world that includes the sylphide. The fantastic may be unreal to the public, but not to the private self. Furthermore, French fantastique literature defines the private in relation to autonomy and freedom. Alvaro seeks to be autonomous in rendering his reality. He can rewrite the boundaries based on his free will and sovereignty as a thinking man. The private develops power through the sense of the self that has free will and the opportunity to exert it. In addition, French fantastique defines privacy as the power to create a new imaginary. Tzvetan Todorov notes that the existence of beings more powerful than humans is constant elements in the fantastique (110). He argues, however, that the fantastic is an attempt for imaginary causality (110). Writers cause something that they wish they can cause themselves. The fantastic is the dream for the private self that is lacking (Todorov 110). The fantastic supports the process of self-transformation. The power of literature for empowerment cannot be undermined. Underneath it is the need for compensation for what is lost or missing, the power to rule oneself and/or others. French fantastique literature, in addition, asserts that the public is the collective consuming masses of individuals, different from the more autonomous self. Alvaro is not similar to characters that dwell in the public’s gaze. These are characters that have no will of their own. Alvaro wants to determine his place in the world of the fantastic in ways that empower him. Furthermore, fantastic literature shows magic as something that shapes the masses. Magic can control and rule the sheep. Only those who have control of their self can dispel the magic’s control. The private does not want to be the public, but to be more than that, to be more powerful, to be more in control. The public dissolves in its homogeneity. The histories of the Arcade differentiate the public and private by showing how the private resists the public through the creation of private spaces and individualism. The private is empowered through law, as Benjamin asserts, when Louis-Philippe supported the notion of the private businessman (83). Benjamin highlights the rising difference between the public and the private: