by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
"I hate commonplace heroes and lukewarm emotions, the kind you find in real life." (II.2.10)
Emma boldly states her view of art and literature: she’s only interested in it as an escapist endeavor.
"Do you know what your wife needs?" said the elder Madame Bovary. "She needs hard work, with her hands! If she had to work for a living, like so many other people, she wouldn’t have those vapors; they come from the silly ideas she fills her head with, and the idle life she leads."
"But she’s busy a good part of the time already," said Charles.
"Oh, busy! Busy doing what? Reading novels and other bad books that are against religion and make fun of priests with quotations from Voltaire! It can lead to all kinds of things, my son – a person who isn’t religious always comes to a bad end."
It was therefore decided to keep Emma from reading novels. (II.7.14)
Mama Bovary and Charles decide that it’s the books that have ruined Emma – thus openly expressing an anti-intellectual, anti-artistic undercurrent that Flaubert depicts in this middle-class society all the way through the novel.
"I know very well," objected the priest, "that there are good literary works and good authors. But all those people of different sex gathered in a luxurious room decorated with all sorts of worldly splendor, and the pagan disguises, the make-up, the bright lights, the effeminate voices – those things alone are enough to create a licentious frame of mind and give rise to evil thoughts and impure temptations. At least that’s the opinion of all the Fathers of the Church… And if the Church condemned the theater," he added […] "she must have had good reasons for it." (II.14.19)
Father Bournisien attempts to paint a malicious picture of the theatre as a den of sin, but he just comes off as being rather ridiculous.