Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Paris. Capital of France, which suffered under German occupation during World War II. Jean Giraudoux was deeply disturbed by the fact that some French citizens collaborated with the Germans during their occupation. Illegal financial activities and fraudulent business practices enabled unscrupulous citizens to profit mightily at the great expense of their fellow countrymen. In his play, Paris is a literary symbol for all the cities that experienced the tragedy and destruction of World War II. It is also a symbol for the purity, simplicity, beauty, and culture destroyed by profiteers. The play’s story revolves around a scheme of the president to drill for oil that he believes lies below the city, even though doing so would destroy the beauty and charm of the city.
In this allegory of human purity and human corruption Giraudoux uses the threat to destroy the city as a way to attack modern capitalism. The Madwoman and her friends represent the citizens of Paris just as the profiteers represent the Nazis and their French collaborators. Ultimately, the Madwoman sends the profiteers to the bottomless pit, symbolically ridding the world of greedy exploitation and restoring the city to its former beauty and purity.