by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Repression Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
[…] the more clearly aware of her love she became, the more she tried to repress it in order to conceal and diminish it. She wished Léon would guess it, and she imagined chance circumstances that would have facilitated its consummation. She was no doubt held back by indolence or fear, and also by shame. She felt that she had kept him at too great a distance, that it was now too late, that all was lost. Furthermore, the pride and pleasure she felt when she said to herself "I’m virtuous," or watched herself in the mirror as she struck various poses of resignation, consoled her a little for the sacrifice she thought she was making. (II.5.43)
Emma is torn here between pain and pleasure; she is pleased by her sense of self-sacrifice, but longs for an expression of the feelings she’s bottled up inside.
The drabness of her daily life made her dream of luxury, her husband’s conjugal affection drove her to adulterous desires. She wished he would beat her so that she could feel more justified in hating him and taking vengeance upon him. She was sometimes amazed by the horrible conjectures that came into her mind; and yet she had to go on smiling, hearing herself told over and over that she was lucky, pretending to be happy, letting everyone believe it! (II.5.46)
Everyone else’s insistence that Emma has a great life drives her crazy – but there’s nothing she can do about it. The thing is, she does theoretically have everything that should make a woman happy…she’s not supposed to have the desires that torment her, according to the rules of society.
She cursed herself for not having surrendered to her love for Léon; she thirsted for his lips. She longed to suddenly run after him, to throw herself in his arms and say to him, "Here I am: I’m yours!" But she was discouraged in advance by the difficulties of such an action, and her desire, augmented by regret, became all the more intense. (II.7.2)
Here, we see that repression just makes desires grow even hotter – being denied something makes Emma want it more.