by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph). We used Lowell Bair's translation.
"Don’t you know there are some souls that are constantly tormented? They need dreams and action, one after the other, the purest passions, the most frenzied pleasures, and it leads them to throw themselves into all sorts of fantasies and follies."
She looked at him as one looks at a traveler who has been in fabulous lands and said, "We poor women can’t even enjoy that kind of distraction!" (II.8.40-41)
Rodolphe, here explaining to Emma why some people just have to give into their passions, can say this simply because he’s a man. Emma, who longs to succumb to her passions but fears what will happen to her, envies him that freedom.
She remembered the heroines of novels she had read, and the lyrical legion of those adulterous women began to sing in her memory with sisterly voices that enchanted her. It was as though she herself were becoming part of that imaginary world, as though she were making the long dream of her youth come true by placing herself in the category of those amorous women she had envied so much. (II.9.58)
At this point, Emma’s view of ideal womanhood is that of woman as lover – she’s proud of her adultery, because it allows her to feel like a romantic heroine.
Her amorous activities changed her everyday behavior. Her glance grew bolder, her speech freer; she even had the audacity to walk with Rodolphe in public with a cigarette in her mouth, "as though she wanted to defy the whole world," people said. Finally even those who still had doubts lost them when she was seen stepping out of the Hirondelle one day wearing a tight, mannish-looking vest […] (II.12.24)
Emma’s rebellion exhibits itself in the most shocking way: what really horrifies the villagers is her adoption of masculine habits.