by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Dissatisfaction Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
She had bought herself a blotter, a writing case, a pen and some envelopes, although she had no one to write to; she would dust off her whatnot, look at herself in the mirror, pick up a book, then begin to daydream between the lines and let it fall to her lap. She longed to travel, or to go back and live in the convent. She wanted both to die and to live in Paris. (I.9.13)
Bored with married life, Emma can’t focus enough to commit to any hobbies. Her longing to live in Paris, which she thinks is the only place for her, is only rivaled by her melodramatic (and insincere) death wish.
[…] in the depths of her soul, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she kept scanning the solitude of her life with anxious eyes, straining to sight some far-off white sail in the mists of the horizon. She did not know how it would come to her, what wind would bring it to her, to what shores it would carry her, whether it would be a launch or a towering three-decker, laden with sorrow or filled to the gunwales with bliss. But every morning when she awoke she expected it to arrive that day; she listened to every sound, periodically leapt to her feet with a start and was surprised when she saw it had not come; then, at sundown, sadder than ever, she longed for the next day. (I.9.19)
Emma is certain that something great is destined to happen to her. However, day after day, nothing ever happens. We are forced to wonder how long she can maintain this futile optimism for…
This was the fourth time she had gone to bed in a strange place. The first was the day she entered the convent, the second was the day she arrived in Tostes, the third at La Vaubyessard, and now the fourth; and each one had marked the beginning of a new phase of her life. She did not believe that things could be the same in different places; and since her life so far had been bad, the remainder of it would surely be better. (II.2.17)
Reflecting upon her short life so far, Emma is sure that the worst is over (even though nothing particularly horrible has happened to her so far) – she’s sure that her life is still waiting to really begin.