by Gustave Flaubert
Sentimental Education Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Part.Chapter.Paragraph)
The lady's ample robes filled up the space within. He stole away from this little padded box with its perfume of iris, and, so to speak, its vague odour of feminine elegance. (1.3.16)
Frederick's first glimpse of Madame Dambreuse makes quite an impression. Without even meeting her, he's already attracted to her femininity. We're not sure about you, but a "vague odour of feminine elegance" doesn't sound like the most appealing thing in the world.
Frederick taxed his ingenuity to find out the social position of these women, modestly attired in gowns of sober hue with flat, turned-up collars. (1.3.55)
This is all part of Frederick's education as a socialite: he's learning to read how clothing reflects these women's social position. He, of course, goes way overboard on his purchases.
He gazed attentively at the fringes of her head-dress, the ends of which caressed her bare shoulder, and he was unable to take away his eyes; he plunged his soul into the whiteness of that feminine flesh, and yet he did not venture to raise his eyelids to glance at her higher, face to face. (1.4.246)
In his first encounter with Madame Arnoux post-boat meet-cute, Frederick is still completely blown away by how beautiful she is. He can't even look her directly in the eyes. What is she, Medusa?