A Reckless Passion (Maupassant)

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A Reckless Passion
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A woman's obsessive love for a reluctant officer led to her leaving her husband and children, causing the officer to lose his position and live a life of regret and despair.

Two young officers, Paul d'Henricel and Jean Renoldi, were walking on a crowded pier when they noticed Madame Poinçot, a beautiful and virtuous woman, walking with her husband.

Jean Renoldi — young officer; initially reluctant to engage in a love affair; eventually becomes trapped in the relationship.
Madame Poinçot — married woman; obsessively in love with Renoldi; sacrifices her family and reputation for him.
Paul d'Henricel — Renoldi's friend and fellow officer; instigates the affair between Renoldi and Madame Poinçot.

Paul claimed that she was in love with Jean, and soon enough, Jean found himself in a love affair with her. After six months, Jean grew tired of the relationship and tried to end it, but Madame Poinçot refused to let go.

I love you! and fall upon her knees and gaze at him in an attitude of devotion.

When Jean's regiment was relocated, he thought he was finally free from the affair. However, Madame Poinçot followed him, leaving her husband and children behind.

You are leaving; I know it, I bring you the greatest proof of love that a woman can give; I am going to follow you.

The scandal forced Jean to resign from the military, and the couple moved to the Mediterranean coast. Three years later, Madame Poinçot's husband, Joseph, visited them, asking for his wife to return home for the sake of their daughters.

Joseph Poinçot — Madame Poinçot's husband; shipowner; tries to reconcile with his wife for the sake of their daughters.

Jean was overjoyed at the prospect of being free from the relationship, but Madame Poinçot refused to leave him.

Jean and Joseph tried to convince her to return to her family, but she remained stubborn and called them both wretches. Left alone, the two men realized they were both trapped in their misery, with no way out.