Solange’s journey is one that takes her into her own heart of darkness, where she finds her limitations, her humiliations and restrictions, and the cultural, political, gendered and racial stereotypes through which she has defined herself. Throughout the novel she begins to unravel these, unwinding herself slowly until she is temporarily removed altogether as subject.
Charterhouse of Parma (published 1839) is set in Italy, but this is in the early 19th century, before Italy became “Italy”. While a country such as France, with its late-18th-century Revolution, had of course much nationalistic feeling and was a political entity, Italy still retained the medieval character of a host of tiny “principalities” (an area ruled by a Prince) and such. Parma, in northern “Italy”, was one of these mini-countries. When we first meet the Prince of Parma, Stendhal draws a portrait of … well, not what you would expect of royalty.