The Gods Will Have Blood: A Review
The Gods Will Have Blood, a novel written by Anatole France, narrates or gives a picture on how the people lived in the course of the French Revolution in the 18th century. Being more specific, Anatole France focuses the novel on the story of a man named Evariste Gamelin, showing the possibility on how a person be completely transformed by the Revolution when particularly given power thinking that the transformation is good for the Revolution and will bring good for the state. During the first parts of the novel, the main character Evariste Gamelin is a person who seems to be an idealistic and honorable man whose devotion belongs to the Republic. Then on the latter parts of the novel, Gamelin becomes ignorant of his environment or society and focuses all his attention in his duties and responsibilities for the Revolution.
The novel “The Gods Will Have Blood” provides its readers and also historians a means to examine and investigate the circumstances and conditions on France during the peak ok the French Revolution, after executing His Imperial French Majesty King Louis XVI, Her Imperial Majesty Queen Marie Antoinette, and also the remaining members if the French Honored Aristocracy. The thing that began with nobility went down to the ordinary Frenchman being guilty with the accusations of ‘subversive thought’ in opposition to the betterment of the Revolution.
This conviction due to revolutionary ideologies can be seen when Maximilien Robespierre was convicted for opposing for the good of the Revolution and was given a verdict of death sentence by the Guillotine. The infamous term “Reign of Terror” is regarded as a symbol or reference to the Guillotine and the bunch of executions straight after the French Monarch was executed.
Due to the unsteadiness of the French Revolution, popular dissent happened and then military men moved into the limelight, like Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte would then carry the French Revolutionary ideologies all the way through the Absolute Monarchies in Europe such as the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, the Prussian Empire, the Austrian-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire. In contradiction, it is considered that the Reign of Terror will be put to end when Napoleon Bonaparte mad himself the sole Emperor of the French Empire and obviously, the French population. With this action, Bonaparte was betraying the ideologies that Revolutionary Republicans took care of. In a sense, the monarchy that was overthrown by the French Revolution was only substituted by another monarchy with Napoleon Bonaparte as its Emperor. Anatole France’s novel demonstrates the danger of too much ‘People’s Power’ and exemplifies the need for having a secure and capable government.
Anatole France’s novel shows the necessity to annihilate the monarchy and the nobility before other foreign infiltrators back them up for the monarchy and the aristocracy to gain enough strength to be reinstated on their former positions. The Reign of Terror can be viewed as an essential part of the Revolution to absolutely eradicate the old governmental system or the monarchy, so to say the French Monarchy and the rest of the nobility must be executed. There was no other way for the French Republic to be established other than through the process of a revolution.
The author uses the term ‘Gods’ as a symbolic reference for the French Revolution and the French Republicans, the followers of the Revolution. Terror can be seen as the ‘means’ or the ‘process’ to come up to a particular goal, which is the establishment of a new form of government. The only way for an absolute Republic to be established in France, just like what the American colonies did with Britain, was to completely annihilate the dangers of the Monarchy. In other words, they must be eradicated. Only after that process will be peace.Ironically, the expected thing to happen did not happen. Napoleon became disloyal to the Republican ideologies by establishing another French Empire and making himself as the ‘Emperor’ of the French population. He was also married to a woman with royal bloodline, of Hapsburg descent; the same bloodline of the former queen of the French Monarchy, Queen Marie Antoinette. This occurrence only strengthens the notion or saying that “Power does corrupt.”
The author Anatole France tells the story of the transformation of the main character Evariste Gamelin because of the Revolution. On the early parts of the novel, Gamelin was described as a humble and simple member of the bourgeois society before the occurrence of the French Revolution. The author illustrated on the first chapter of The Gods Will Have Blood that Gamelin was a good artist and a student of the most famous artist of that time, Jacques Louis David. He was a follower of Maximilien Robespierre and also a part of the Convention. Evariste gamelan, as a citizen, can also be portrayed as a person with strong convictions that he sturdily believed to be beneficial for the state and its people.
In his later years, Evariste Gamelin could be considered as responsible for the executions of a lot of his fellow Frenchman through the infamous feared guillotine. It can be considered that the first part of the transformation of the main character Evariste Gamelin was when he was cheered by the people while defending Guillergues in court. “When considering a crime so great as stealing the sinews of victory from the defenders of our country, we need to be shown positive proof of guilt. We have not been shown any proof,” (France, 135). Due to this passage Guillergues was given a verdict of not guilty. Then Gamelin was hailed as a hero of the Revolution. He was considered to be a man who stood up for the privileges of his fellow countryman.
The praises that he had received further developed Gamelin’s shaded beliefs on the Republic. He convicted himself that justice would be done for the people and by the people through the court. And because of the understanding that he was a hero, he gained power. This power and blind conviction made Evariste Gamelin a cold-hearted fellow who became a mere shell of his former identity. Gamelin suddenly turned into a man who would turn punishment as a form of religious action and supernatural ideology. After some time, he finally convicted himself that the people were indebted in their criminals the right punishments as a privilege of the people.
Due to this transformation, Gamelin can be considered a hero and a villain as well. From the earlier parts of the novel, he was representing his fellow countrymen. Hence, he was a hero. But due to the praises and cheers that he had received, he began to believe in an ideology which would lead him to the cold-hearted man he was on the end of the novel.
The novel The Gods Will Have Blood effectively illustrates on how the French Revolution change Evariste Gamelin. The novel shows the influence of French Revolution and its other deeper effects in the routinary lives of the politics, government, and civilian life in France.
France, Anatole. The Gods Will Have Blood. England: Clays Ltd, St. Ives plc, 1979.