by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Freedom and Confinement Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
Emma was inwardly pleased to feel that she had so quickly attained that rare ideal of a pale, languid existence, beyond the reach of mediocre spirits. (I.6.10)
Even as a young girl, Emma feels the need to escape from the world of "mediocre spirits" – that is, everyone else. She prides herself on breaking free from convention.
So they were going to continue like this, one after the other, always the same, innumerable, bringing nothing! In other people’s lives, dull as they might be, there was at least a chance that something might happen. One event sometimes had infinite ramifications and could change the whole setting of a person’s life. But God had willed that nothing should ever happen to her. The future was a long, dark corridor with only a locked door at the end. (I.9.22)
Emma’s life, now that she’s stuck in a marriage, seems like it offers no possible escape, or even variation.
"Doesn’t it seem to you," asked Madame Bovary, "that the mind moves more freely in the presence of that boundless expanse [the sea], that the sight of it elevates the soul and gives rise to thoughts of the infinite and the ideal?" (II.2.7)
In talking to Léon, Emma shares her views more openly – as though in conversation with him she feels the same freedom she describes here.