by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
It seemed to her that certain parts of the earth must produce happiness like a plant indigenous to that soil and unable to flourish anywhere else. If only she could lean over the balcony of a Swiss chalet, or enclose her melancholy in a Scottish cottage, with a husband wearing a long black velvet cloak, a sugar-loaf hat and fancy cuffs! (I.7.1)
What Emma really means is that love and happiness, in her limited view, only flourish where the soil is, shall we say, richer.
Their clothes, better made, seemed of finer cloth, and their hair, brought forward over the temples in curls, seemed to glisten with more delicate pomades. They had the complexion of wealth, that white complexion that is heightened by the pallor of porcelain, the sheen of satin, the luster of fine furniture, and is kept in perfect condition by a moderate diet of exquisite foods. Their necks turned freely above low cravats; their long side whiskers descended to their turned-down collars; they wiped their lips with scented handkerchiefs bearing embroidered monograms. Those who were beginning to age seemed youthful, while those who were young had a certain look of maturity. Their faces wore that placid expression which comes from the daily gratification of the passions; and beneath their polished manners one could sense the special brutality that comes from half-easy triumphs which test one’s strength and flatter one’s vanity – the handling of thoroughbred horses, the pursuit of loose women. (I.8.21)
Here, Flaubert describes wealthy men as though they are a totally different species, unlike the common folk that Emma is used to.
Her trip to Vaubyessard had made a gap in her life, like one of those great crevasses which a storm will sometimes hollow out on a mountainside in a single night. But she managed to resign herself; she opened her drawer and reverently put away the clothes she had worn to the ball, including even her satin slippers, whose soles were yellowed from the slippery wax of the dance floor. Her heart was like them: contact with wealth something had left something on it which would not wear away. (I.8.51)
Now that Emma has seen what wealth is like, it has become an obsession. The ball plants the seeds of greedy desire in her heart, even though she knows it can never be satisfied in her everyday life.