by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Foolishness and Folly Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
[…] she was becoming terribly sentimental. They had had to exchange miniatures and cut off locks of their hair, and she was now asking him for a ring, a real wedding ring, as a symbol of their eternal union. She often spoke to him about the "bells of evening" or the "voices of nature;" then she would tell him about her mother and ask about his. Rodolphe's mother had been dead for twenty years, but Emma kept consoling him in the affected language she would have used in speaking to a bereaved child; and sometimes she would even look up at the moon and say to him, "I’m sure they’re both up there together, and I know they approve of our love." (II.10.28)
Emma, given the opportunity, shows that she still has the same silly ideas about romance that she cultivated as a kid. She’s acting out the farcical part of a mistress in some trashy novel, and it makes her appear totally ridiculous to both us and Rodolphe.
[Monsieur Lheureux] talked with her about the latest items from Paris, about countless feminine novelties; he was extremely obliging and never asked for money. Emma abandoned herself to this easy way of satisfying all her whims. (II.12.12)
Sometimes we just want to grab Emma by the shoulders and shake her, yelling "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" This is one of those times. She just doesn’t seem to realize that buying things means that you’ll eventually be billed for them…
"What a fool I am!" he exclaimed, swearing violently. "Just the same, though, she was a pretty mistress!"
And Emma’s beauty, along with all the pleasures of their love, rushed back into his mind.
For a moment he was deeply moved, then he rebelled against her.
"After all," he cried, gesticulating, "I can’t go into exile and saddle myself with a child!" he told himself these things to strengthen his resolution. "And besides, all that trouble and expense […] Oh no! No, by God! That would be too stupid!" (II.12.58)
Rodolphe knows too well what the consequences of his actions are; he’s a selfish man who would rather be a cruel heartbreaker than a fool for love. Though he’s tempted to give in to emotion in the same wholehearted, vulnerable way Emma does, he knows better than to surrender to folly.