A Simple Heart: an Examination of Felicite

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A great example of an author writing during the Realistic period, Gustave Flaubert invites the reader to explore the character of Felicite in his story, "A Simple Heart." Felicite is a round, yet static character in this story. Though described in intimate detail by Flaubert through both objective analysis of her possessions and appearance, the anecdotes portrayed by the author really tell the full story of Felicite's character. In spite of incredible losses, Felicite's inner characteristics do not change. From the beginning of the story until the end, Felicite is diligent, courageous, and faithful. Felicite's diligence is portrayed throughout the story. From the beginning the reader sees that she is hard-working. She was so fastidious about cleaning that "the polish on her saucepans was the despair of other servants (p. 2341). Considered an expert at bargaining, Felicite was thrifty, and could make a twelve-pound loaf of bread last for three weeks (p. 2341). Throughout the years of her service to Madame Aubain and her children, and then later as she nursed those wounded by the war, the reader sees that Felicite was reliable and devoted to those she served—without regard for a person's position in life or looking for reward. Some measure courage only by demonstrated strength in a physical contest, but in the life of Felicite, the reader can observe courage in both situations of danger and the fortitude demonstrated to make it through the daily difficulties of life. For instance, Felicite did protect her mistress and the children in the face of a charging bull, even staying in front of the bull until she knew her mistress and the children were safely on the other side of the fence (p. 2345). The courage she displayed to move on from the very difficult grief and loss she felt over losing Theodore was no less courageous because it required her to strike out on her own to make her own way in the world. She had no one to protect her but herself, yet she...
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