Gustave Flaubert "A Simple Heart"

1198 words 5 pages
Gustave Flaubert "A Simple Heart"

Gustave Flaubert’s short story, A Simple Heart, is the narrative account of one woman’s painfully unrewarding life as a humble and blindly dedicated servant, Felicite. Throughout the story chronicling her life, she suffers a series of heartbreaking losses, but continues to love unconditionally nonetheless. A Simple Heart brings up themes of death and loss, and unquestioning duty and responsibility. It also calls into question conventional religious belief, through, among other things, Felicite’s warship of the parrot, Lou Lou. Felicite represents each of these themes partly in her own ignorance and simplicity and, as a result, it is seemingly difficult to validate the authenticity of her
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When Virginie’s turn came, Felicite leaned forward to see her; and with the imaginativeness of deep and tender feeling it seemed to her that she actually was the child; Virginie’s face became hers, she was dressed in her clothes, it was her heart beating in her breast. As the moment came to open her mouth she closed her eyes and nearly fainted. (1025) When Felicite went early the next morning to receive the communion, “she took it with devotion, but it did not give her the same exquisite delight” (1026). In this example, is such religious devotion hers, or is it only the young girls? However, who is to decide the legitimacy of Felicite's own piety? Could she not have simply been less overwhelmed in this instance than during her first real connection with God; many feelings lose their power as one continues to experience them. If she feels piety genuinely in her heart, regardless of the cause of the emotion, is it not inherently hers? It is. Flaubert also shows his skepticism of religious devotion in Felicite’s simple mind. Perhaps she, an uneducated woman, lacks the logical knowledge to question these feelings and beliefs. For instance, when Felicite visits the dead body of Virginie, “she kissed them [her eyes] and would not have been immensely surprised if Virginie had opened them again; to minds like hers the supernatural is quite simple” (1030). She also show’s her ignorance when she studies the map with M. Bourais, trying to