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Quotes

Quote #1

She suffered intensely, feeling herself born for every delicacy and every luxury. She suffered from the poverty of her dwelling, from the worn walls, the abraded chairs, the ugliness of the stuffs. All these things, which another woman of her caste would not even have noticed, tortured her and made her indignant. (3)

Mathilde feels herself to be better than her circumstances. She deserves more than she has, and is angry at the universe because she isn't getting it. Her dissatisfaction seems intimately connected to pride.

Quote #2

When she sat down to dine, before a tablecloth three days old, in front of her husband, who lifted the cover of the tureen, declaring with an air of satisfaction, "Ah, the good pot-au-feu. I don't know anything better than that," she was thinking of delicate repasts, with glittering silver, with tapestries peopling the walls with ancient figures and with strange birds in a fairy-like forest. (4)

Mathilde's husband is the opposite of Mathilde: he's happy with what he has. So far as he's concerned, there's nothing better than the good old stew his wife puts on the table every evening. All Mathilde can think of at the same moment is how much better things could be, and how she'd rather be elsewhere. It all seems too low to her.

Quote #3

"Nothing. Only I have no clothes, and in consequence I cannot go to this party. Give your card to some colleague whose wife has a better outfit than I." (21)

Instead of being happy with the invitation her husband has worked so hard to get, Mathilde's first reaction is to be angry about it. If she's going to go, she just has to look the best, and she doesn't have any clothes that are nice enough Is she ever happy? Then again, would you want to go to the one nice party you've been invited to looking shabby? It's hard to tell whether Mathilde's vanity, or greed, is making her overreact, or whether she does have nothing nice to wear.

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