"A Simple Heart" by Gustave Flaubert

Felicite, ironically named, is never happy. Her life is full of devotion, submission and servitude. She is uneducated. She does not think for herself or have any hobbies or ambitions of her own. Her love is excessive and largely unappreciated and unreturned. There are some occasions where she receives objects of affection from her mistress and her nephew, but never any substantial gestures of love. She clings to these objects in an excessive, pathetic way. In truth, I don’t feel sympathy for her because she has no self, no identity to connect with. She clings to trinkets and remnants of lives she lived through. She is, as the title suggests, simply heart, without inspiration or direction or any of the complexity that is being human. It’s appropriate that she eventually goes blind–she’s blind all along, blindly devoted, which even for someone as simple hearted and “single-minded” as she is, does not lead to happiness or contentment. It’s a dead life she lives, full of relics of the dead, waiting for her own death.

 

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