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Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert

Foolishness and Folly Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

[Emma] considered herself much more unhappy now, for she had experienced grief and knew it would never end.

A woman who had imposed such great sacrifices on herself certainly had a right to indulge in a few whims. She bought herself a Gothic prie-dieu; she spent fourteen francs in one month on lemons with which to bleach her fingernails, she sent for a blue cashmere dress from Rouen; she bought the finest scarf in Lheureux’s shop. (II.7.5)

Emma is always sure that she knows best. Now that Léon is gone, her "grief" makes her feel like she’s really lived life. However, this is just a ridiculous excuse for the retail therapy she indulges in.

Quote #2

"Don’t you know there are some souls that are constantly tormented? They need dreams and action, one after the other, the purest passions, the most frenzied pleasures, and it leads them to throw themselves into all sorts of fantasies and follies." (II.8.40)

Here, Rodolphe attempts to tell Emma that her soul, one of these special ones that are always tormented, needs to give in to her desires – and to folly.

Quote #3

"I’m wrong, wrong!" she said. "I’m mad to listen to you!"

"Why? Emma! Emma!"

"Oh, Rodolphe," said the young woman slowly, leaning on his shoulder.

The broadcloth of her dress clung to the velvet of his coat. She tilted back her head and a long tremor ran through her body; weeping and hiding her face, she abandoned herself. (II.9.47-48)

Emma knows theoretically she’s "wrong" and "mad" to give in to Rodolphe’s advances, but she does anyway.

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