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Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert

Freedom and Confinement Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

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.

Quote #2

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.

Quote #3

"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.

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