Study Guide

Théodore in A Simple Heart

By Gustave Flaubert

Théodore

And yet another piece of work. Poor Félicité meets this "prosperous-looking young man" (2.3) at a fair, where he buys her "cider, coffee, a buckwheat pancake, a scarf, and, assuming that she had guessed his intention, offered to walk her home. On the edge of a field of oats, he suddenly threw her to the ground. She took fright and started screaming. He ran off" (2.3). This guy obviously doesn't know anything about consent.

Unfortunately this isn't the last Félicité sees of Théodore. The next time they run into each other he apologizes (okay, we'll give him that), but he turns out to be a coward. He proposes marriage, and swears to her that he means it.

What he really means, apparently, is that he doesn't mean it. Rather than breaking up with Félicité himself, he sends a friend to do it in his place, which is basically the 19th century version of a text-message break up. Theodore's a coward, who, "in order to make sure that he would not be conscripted," "had married a very rich old woman named Madame Lehoussais in Toucques" (2.14). Théodore breaks Félicité's heart, but he doesn't even have the guts to do it himself.

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