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Quotes

Quote #1

In her longing she confused the pleasures of luxury with the joys of the heart, elegant customs with refined feelings. Did not love, like Indian plants, require prepared soil and special temperatures? Sighs in the moonlight, long embraces, tears flowing onto yielding hands, all the fevers of the flesh and the languors of love – these things were inseparable from the balcony of a great castle in which life moved at a leisurely pace, from a boudoir with silk curtains, a thick carpet, filled flower stands and a bed mounted on a platform, from the sparkle of precious stones or the aiguillettes of liveried servants. (I.9.8)

Emma’s view of love, influenced by the novels she reads, is tied inextricably to atmosphere – she feels as though she can’t experience true love without the right setting, something of an odd and superficial claim.

Quote #2

Love, [Emma] felt, ought to come at once, with great thunderclaps and flashes of lightning; it was like a storm bursting upon life from the sky, uprooting it, overwhelming the will and sweeping the heart into the abyss. It did not occur to her that the rain forms puddles on a flat roof when drainpipes are clogged, and she would have continued to feel secure if she had not suddenly discovered a crack in the wall. (II.4.16)

Emma’s misconception of love leads her astray. Preoccupied by her idealistic view of how love "ought" to be, she doesn’t even recognize it when it creeps up on her gradually.

Quote #3

Then she asked herself, "Isn’t he in love with someone? Who could it be? […] Why, it’s me!"

All the evidence immediately became clear to her and her heart leapt. The flames in the fireplace cast a joyful, flickering light on the ceiling; she rolled over on her back and stretched out her arms.

Then began the eternal lament: "Oh, if only fate had willed it! Why can’t things have been different? What would have been wrong with it?" (II.5.9-11)

In addition to being tied to setting, love is also interchangeable with drama for Emma. As soon as she realizes that Léon is in love with her, she has to immediately wail and moan about the cruelty of fate, as is customary in the novels she reads.

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