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.
[…] in the pride of her devotion she likened herself to those great ladies of the past whose glory she had dreamed of while contemplating a portrait of La Vallière and who, majestically trailing the ornate trains of their long gowns, had withdrawn into solitude to shed at the feet of Christ the tears of a heart wounded by life. (II.14.9)
Emma’s perspective on the ideal woman has changed here, after her break with Rodolphe. She now reverts back to a more conventional symbol, that of the bride of Christ.
[Léon] now savored for the first time the ineffable delicacies of feminine refinements. Never before had he encountered this grace of language, this modesty of attire, these languid, dovelike poses. He admired the exaltation of her soul and the lace on her petticoat. Furthermore, was she not a "lady" and a married woman – in short, a real mistress? (III.5.19)
Léon is enraptured by Emma’s femininity; to him, she is the perfect woman, partially because she’s the first real lady he’s been close to.
There was a clerk, two medical students and a salesman – what company for her! As for the women, she quickly realized, from the sound of their voices, that most of them must be of the lowest class. Suddenly feeling afraid, she pushed back her chair and lowered her eyes. (III.6.78)
After years of thinking herself a member of some ideal, higher class of women, Emma comes to the brutal realization that she is perhaps no better than a common strumpet.