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Written by Danaë Brandt
His wife knew first.
This is the first line of the novel, and it sets the tone for the narrative. The novel isn’t about Lili Elbe: it is about Lili and Greta’s relationship. The line is also indicative of the deep connection these two had. Spouses are supposed to know their significant other better than anyone else, and even though many narratives follow the trope of married couples being stranger to the other, in this case, Greta did indeed know her spouse more intimately than anyone else.
Einar didn't go to Madame Jasmin-Carton's for the same reason as the other men. […] He only wanted to watch the girls strip and dance, to study the curve and heft of their breasts, to watch the thighs, eerily white and tremulous like the skin on a bowl of steamed milk, flap open and closed.
This is an interesting scene, as it puts Einar in a traditionally erotic location, but sex is the furthest thing from his mind. Einar is at the peep show to study women and their movement. He is looking at the women much like an artist would study their subject in order to reproduce it as accurately as possible on their canvas. This study of the female form adds to Einar disgust with the male body.
“Am I really a woman now?”
Lili has just gone through her gender reassignment surgery. Not only is the surgery a success, but it is also revealed that Lili was indeed born with ovaries, reaffirming her conviction, and shutting down all the negative reactions from the so-called professionals who had diagnosed her with mental illness.
“You won’t leave me?” Lili asked Greta.
This is Lili’s first outing to the Artist’s Ball. They are attending together, and have agreed to claim that Lili is Einar’s cousin. Although Lili is asking Greta not to physically leave her during the ball, Greta does in fact stay with Lili throughout most of the novel. She does keep her promise up until she fears that Lili is going to undergo a surgery much too dangerous.
“What would you think if I were to tell you to stop wearing women’s clothes”
This scene happens when Einar visits Dr Hexler, after having bleeding episodes no one can explain. The doctor gives Einar an X-Ray in the hopes that it would help Einar from being homosexual. It is an uncomfortable moment, as the doctor not only believe that Einar is gay (which he is not), but he believes it to be a mental illness that is potentially easily cured.
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