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Joliette

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Joliette is the protagonist and villain of the titular French fairy tale "Joliette" by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont.

Description

Joliette is a beautiful young woman. She is mute until her twentieth birthday as per a curse. However, she still manages to be highly intelligent, and communicates by gestures and writing. Unfortunately, this leads Joliette to becoming a tattletale. Although her tattling is innocent at first, it later becomes malicious. She tends to exaggerate her gossip (often because she only pays attention to part of a conversation). Her gossip has catastrophic consequences. Joliette never learns from her mistakes and keeps making them over and over again.

She is very vain and spoiled, and loves getting praise, especially from her mother, even if it at the expense of others.

Role in the story

Joliette is born to a noble couple who had been trying for years to have a child. Several fairies are invited to her christening. The queen of the fairies, furious that her fellow fairies had not given Joliette a good heart, curses Joliette by making her unable to speak until she is twenty.

Joliette grows up with all kinds of tutors, and she learns to communicate by gestures, and later, by writing. Due to the poor guidance of her tutors and her mother, Joliette's father fears that she will end up becoming a tattletale. This proves to be true as Joliette gets older, for she develops a penchant for writing out whatever she sees, even if it is none of her business. People begin to hate Joliette and try to avoid her whenever possible.

When Joliette is twelve, her father dies, and things take a turn for the worse. By now, she is constantly spying on the servants and writing their every action. Due to having so many people to spy on, Joliette cannot keep track of what everyone is saying, so she starts to alter what she sees in her writing. People break out into fights over hearing what Joliette wrote down about them.

Eventually, Joliette turns twenty, and finally gains the ability to speak. Upon her twentieth birthday the fairy who cursed her appears to her. She uses a mirror to show Joliette innocent people whose lives were ruined due to her gossip. First, the fairy shows Joliette an impoverished merchant and his children begging. She tells Joliette the merchant used to be rich, but then Joliette had made known to everyone all of the people he owed money to, and reduced the merchant to poverty. Second, the fairy shows Joliette a crying woman. The woman was talking to another man who wanted to marry one of her cousins when Joliette spied on them and wrote down that the woman was cheating on her husband with this man, resulting the husband slaying the other man and abandoning his wife. The third person who the fairy shows Joliette has the worst fate - he is trapped in a sadistic prison. The fairy tells Joliette that he was having an innocent conversation, but Joliette had told two men and a woman who hated the man that he had correspondence with enemies of the king. As a result, the king had condemned the man to prison for the rest of his life.

To further prove her point, the fairy shows Joliette other people who suffered because of her tattling - people in the streets begging for food, people who were disowned by their parents, and couples who split up. Joliette feels sorry for the horrible things that happened to innocent people due to her gossip. When Joliette wonders how she can amend, the fairy tells Joliette that she is too old to amend, and being disgusted with Joliette, abandons her.

Joliette tries to atone for her misdeeds by selling all her property and moving with her mother to a great city where no one knew who she was. She receives a warm reception, and ends up marrying a lord. A year goes by without any problems. Then one day, Joliette's husband told her about a dishonorable gentleman. A few days later, Joliette attends a masquerade ball and tells a man that she had danced with that his wife was married to such a dishonorable man. She then informs the man that her husband had told her that. Later, the man leaves the ball, and fifteen minutes later, Joliette receives news that her husband had been stabbed. Joliette rushes to her husband, who had been stabbed by the man who Joliette called dishonorable. Joliette's husband curses her right before he dies. Joliette, realizing the consequences of her actions, impales herself on her husband's sword. Joliette's mother witnesses the deaths of her daughter and son-in-law and curses the fairy before dying herself.

Trivia

Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont, the author of Joliette, is the same woman who wrote the version of Beauty and the Beast that is most commonly read today.

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