Quotes from Madame Bovary

"The clouds were gathering in the west, in the direction of Rouen, swiftly rolling in black spirals with enormous sunbeams emerging from them in back, like the golden arrows of a hanging trophy, while the rest of the sky was empty and as white as porcelain. But a gust of wind bent the poplars and suddenly rain was pattering on the green leaves. Then the sun came out again, chickens cackled, sparrows fluttered their wings in the wet bushes and little streams of water flowing from puddles in the gravel carried away the pink flowers of an acacia."p.104

"Evening shadows were falling; the sun’s rays, streaming horizontally through the branches, dazzled her eyes. Here and there, all around her, among the leaves and on the ground, were shimmering patches of light, as though hummingbirds had scattered their feathers in flight. Silence lay over everything; the trees seemed to be giving off something soft and sweet; she felt her heart beating again, and the blood flowing through her flesh like a river of milk. Then she heard a long, lingering, indistinct cry coming from one of the hills far beyond the forest; she listened to it in silence as it mingled like a strain of music with the last vibrations of her overwrought nerves."p.139

Inspiring Quotes
* Love
* Life
* Love
* Silly
* By Person

"But the depth of your feelings, which is both your charm and your torment, prevented you, adorable woman that you are, from realizing the falsity of our future position. At first I gave it no thought either: I was resting in the shadow of that ideal happiness as in the shade of the poisonous machineel tree, without foreseeing the consequences." -Rodolphe’s Goodbye Letter, p.175

"He had one of those magnificently pale complexions which impart the majesty of a marble statue to the ardent races of the south. His robust chest was tightly encased in a brown doublet, a small chased dagger hung loosely over his left thigh and he rolled his eyes languorously, flashing his white teeth." P.193 (the opera)

"His fury had driven him to quote in Latin, and he would have quoted in Chinese and Greenlandic if he had known those languages, for he was undergoing one of those crises in which the entire soul indistinctly shows what it contains, just as, in a storm, the sea fleetingly opens to reveal everything from the seaweed on its shore to the sand of its greatest depths." P.214

"It was the time of day when one hears the sound of caulker’s mallets striking against hulls in the shipyards. Tar smoke floated up through the trees, and on the surface of the river there were large oily patches undulating irregularly in the crimson glow of the sun, like plaques of Florentine bronze." P.221

"All right, that’s good," she would say to him. "You can leave now."

For he would be standing there with his arms hanging loosely and his eyes wide open, as though he had suddenly become enmeshed in the countless strands of an intricate reverie." P.231 (Emma to Justin)

"His failure to keep his word about their rendezvous seemed to her an outrage, and she sought other reasons for breaking off their affair: he was incapable of heroism, weak, common-place, spineless as a woman, and stringy, too, and cowardly.

Then she grew calmer and decided she was probably being unjust to him. But disparaging those we love always detaches us from them to some extend. It is better not to touch our idols: the gilt comes off on our hands." P.243

"No matter: she was not happy, and never had been. Why was life so unsatisfying? Why did everything she leaned on instantly crumble into dust? . . . But if somewhere there existed a strong, handsome man with a valorous, passionate and refined nature, a poet’s soul in the form of an angel, a lyre with strings of bronze intoning elegiac nuptial songs to the heavens, why was it not possible that she might meet him some day? No, it would never happen! Besides, nothing was worth seeking-everything was a lie! Each smile hid a yawn of boredom, each joy a curse, each pleasure its own disgust; and the sweetest kisses only left on one’s lips a hopeless longing for a higher ecstasy." P.245 (She is unhappy with her love affairs, and wants more.)

"Her pride swelled: never before had she felt such esteem for herself or such contempt for others. And she was exalted by a feeling of belligerency. She wished she could attack all men, spit in their faces, grind them into the dust. She walked swiftly along the road, pale, trembling and furious, scanning the empty horizon with tear-filled eyes and almost delighting in the hatred that was choking her." P.263


Quotes that you shouldn’t read until after you’ve read the book:

"She repeated to herself, "I have a lover! I have a lover!" and the thought gave her a delicious thrill, as though she were beginning a second puberty. At last she was going to possess the joys of love, that fever of happiness she had despaired of ever knowing. She was entering a marvelous realm in which everything would be passion, ecstasy and rapture; she was surrounded by vast expanses of bluish space, summits of intense feeling sparkled before her eyes, and everyday life appeared far below in the shadows between these peaks."p.140

"He, this man of great experience, could not distinguish dissimilarities of feeling beneath familiarities of expression. Because lascivious or venal lips had murmured the same words to him, he now had little belief in their sincerity when he heard them from Emma; they should be taken with a grain of salt, he thought, because the most exaggerated speeches usually hid the weakest feelings -- as though the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow into the emptiest phrases, since no one can ever express the exact measure of his needs, his conceptions or his sorrows, and human speech is like a cracked pot on which we beat out rhythms for bears to dance to when we are striving to make music that will wring tears from the stars."p.165

"Emma felt something strong pass over her, ridding her of all pain, all perception, all feeling. Her unburdened body stopped thinking, another life was beginning; it seemed to her that her spirit, rising up to God, was about to be annihilated in this love, like burning incense dissolving in smoke. The sheets of the bed were sprinkled with holy water; the priest took the white Eucharistic host from the sacred place; and she was overcome with celestial bliss when she advanced her lips to receive the body of the savior. The curtains of her alcove swelled out gently around her like clouds, and the rays of light given off by the two wax tapers burning on the dresser seemed to be dazzling aureoles. She let her head fall back, thinking she heard the music of angelic harps coming to her through boundless space; and on a golden throne in an azure sky, amid saints holding green palm branches, God the Father appeared in all His majesty, motioning angels with wings of flame to descend to earth and bring her back in their arms." P.184 (near-death sickness scene)

"The priest stood up and took the crucifix; she stretched forth her neck as though she were thirsting, pressed her lips to the body of the God-Man and imprinted on it, with all her fading strength, the most ardent kiss of love she had ever given. Then he recited the Miseratur and the Indulgetaim, dipped his right thumb in the oil and began the annointments: first her eyes, which had so fiercely coveted all earthly luxury; then her nostrils, so avid for warm breezes and amorous scents; then her lips, which had opened to speak lies, cry out in pride and moan in lust; then her hands, which had taken such pleasure in sensuous contacts; and finally the soles of her feet, once so swift in hurrying to gratify her desires, and now never to walk again." P.280 (final Sacraments)

"The stones striking the wooden coffin made that awesome sound which seems to us the reverberation of eternity." P.293

"On the grave among the fir trees, a boy was kneeling in the darkness with tears in his eyes, his chest racked by sobs, his heart oppressed by an immense grief as tender as the moon and as unfathomable as the night" p.294 (Justin)


Quotes from the novelist and his art:

"I notice that I hardly ever laugh any more and that I am no longer sad. I am ripe. You talk about my serenity, dear friend, and you envy me for it." September, 1845 (he was 24)

"I think I have discovered a truth, an important truth, which is that happiness for people like us lies in the idea, and nowhere else. Discover your own true nature, and be in harmony with it." September, 1845 (he was 24)

"There is now such an enormous gap between me and the rest of the world that sometimes I am amazed to hear people say the simplest and most natural things. The most commonplace remark sometimes holds me rapt with admiration. There are gestures and tones of voice which utterly undo me, and stupidities which almost make me dizzy. Have you ever listened attentively to people talking a foreign language which you did not understand?" - September, 1845 (he was 24)

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