Why are fictional females violently attacked and ultimately eliminated in nineteenth - and twentieth-century texts written by male authors? A specific and widespread pattern not only determines the fate of heroines in French fiction, but also affects us today. What leads a poet, a novelist and a playwright all in the same chilling direction? The connection between the artistic role of the fictional female and her untimely death is given in the analysis of Baudelaire, Zola, and Cocteau. This book demonstrates how and why women are 'set up' to be sacrificed in a ritual that involves the very notions of gender and identity.