by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Appearances Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
It was for [Rodolphe] that she filed her fingernails with the meticulous care of an engraver, faithfully rubbed her skin with cold cream and scented her handkerchiefs with patchouli. She wore all sorts of bracelets, rings and necklaces. On days when she expected him to come she would fill her two big blue glass vases with roses, arrange the whole room and adorn herself as though she were a courtesan awaiting a visit from a prince. (II.12.4)
Adultery makes Emma even vainer than she usually is; her appearance becomes her main occupation.
Madame Bovary had never been so beautiful as she was now; she had that indefinable beauty which results from joy, enthusiasm, and success, and which is essentially a harmony between temperament and circumstances. She had been gradually developed by her desires, her sorrows, her sensual experience and her still-young illusions, as flowers are developed by manure, rain, wind and sun, and her entire nature was now in bloom. Her eyelids seemed to have been made expressly for those long amorous glances in which her pupils were lost in profound reverie while her heavy breathing dilated her thin nostrils and raised the fleshy corners of her lips, with their delicate shadow of dark down. Her twisted hair seemed to have been arranged by some artist skilled in corruption; it lay coiled in a heavy mass, carelessly shaped by the adulterous embraces that loosened it every day. Her voice now took on softer inflections, and so did her body, even the folds of her dress and the arch of her foot gave off a kind of subtle, penetrating emanation. (II.12.36)
Somehow, Emma’s body channels her emotions yet again; everything about her is sensuous, luxuriant, and incredibly sexy, even the fabric of her dress.
With the diversity of her moods – by turns mystic, joyous, loquacious, taciturn, passionate or nonchalant – she awakened a thousand desires in him, aroused his instincts and memories. She was the amorous heroine of all novels and plays, the vague "she" of all poetry. He saw in her shoulders the amber skin of the "Bathing Odalisque"; she had the long-waisted figure of a feudal chatelaine; she also resembled the "Pale Woman of Barcelona," but above all she was an angel! (III.5.20)
To the smitten Léon, Emma takes on the appearance of his artistic ideals; he reads his vision of the perfect woman into her.