envie de faire le mal

astrantia

Senior Member
UK
English - UK
Can any one help me interpret the following phrase from an author's diary, written after an argument with her parents?:

'Après une dispute [...] j'écris dans mon journal : "Pourquoi, depuis toujours, ai-je envie de faire le mal et par ailleurs je souffre toujours ?'"

Does 'faire le mal' mean to do evil/harm? Is there a difference between this and 'faire du mal'/faire mal à?

My interpretation:

Why am I forever wanting to do evil/harm/hurt (others) (...)?

Thank you!
 
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  • sylber

    Senior Member
    Hello, I think that 'to do evil' corresponds better to 'faire le mal' which is not limited to hurting someone but includes anything that is wrong or sinful.
     

    astrantia

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    Thank you snarkhunter and sylber - that's a great help. Perhaps 'to do wrong' would also fit?

    And for the second part of the phrase '...et par ailleurs je souffre toujours' - is my interpretation correct? - i.e. she is asking herself why she keeps doing wrong when it causes her to suffer as well - am I correct?

    I would start a new thread for this but both phrases seem inextricably linked and can only be understood and interpreted together...

    Thank you.
     

    snarkhunter

    Senior Member
    French - France
    And for the second part of the phrase '...et par ailleurs je souffre toujours' - is my interpretation correct? - i.e. she is asking herself why she keeps doing wrong when it causes her to suffer as well - am I correct?
    You're welcome. And, yes, I assume you would have been expected to open a separate thread for this, even though both parts of the sentence may seemingly be linked.

    Actually, I think the latter part may be understood two very different ways:

    1/ Is she suffering because she keeps doing wrong?

    ... or:

    2/ Does she keep doing wrong because she's suffering?

    ... Pretty interesting question, ain't it?!
     

    astrantia

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    Thanks again snarkhunter - it's reassuring to know that the meaning is ambiguous for a native Francophone too! I guess I will have to try and be equally ambiguous in the translation...
     

    snarkhunter

    Senior Member
    French - France
    You're welcome! And still thinking about this interesting (and rather 'philosophical') question, I though the sentence could also be understood as 'I do wrong and yet I'm still suffering: I'm not getting any relief from doing so'.

    Or it could also mean: 'I do wrong and I'm also hurting myself at the same time'
     

    astrantia

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - UK
    Thanks for still thinking about it! Do you think the French sentence sounds unusual, a bit odd? Somehow unfinished.

    I am leaning towards your latter interpretation - that she thinks her behaviour (doing wrong) is harmful to herself. She feels guilty perhaps about arguing with her parents and wonders why she keeps doing it because it hurts her as well as them.

    Any more inspiration welcome!
     
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