Short summary - A Simple Heart - Gustave Flaubert

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - A Simple Heart
Gustave Flaubert

I
Felicite is a humble servant. She serves Madame Aubin, an old lady. The lady once had a husband, but he died, and she sold all the riches, leaving a small farm that brings little income. Felicite also has a love story that she recalls.
II
Felicite's parents died when she was very young. She went through a lot of suffering, living as a shepherdess and a servant - she was beaten and mocked in every way. As a young girl, she ended up on a farm where she was loved. Once the owners took her to a ball in Colville. There she met a dapper young man, Theodore, who volunteered to accompany her, and on the way home he rudely threw her into the hay. She screamed in fright and he left.
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They later met on the Beaumont road. She wanted to run away, but he suddenly started talking about the harvest and that he wanted to find a wife for himself. At first she could not believe her ears, but gave up. The next week he talked her into going on a date with him.
He swore eternal love to her, but suddenly he began to fear that he would soon be overtaken by recruitment, and he would be taken into the army. Finally, he decides to find out everything himself in the prefecture. At the appointed time, Felicite runs to the meeting place, but meets there a friend of Theodore, who informs her that everything is over - Theodore married a rich old woman to avoid military service. This is a real grief for Felicite. She goes to Pont-l'Eveque.
There she meets her mistress, whom she serves to this day. The lady has two children - Paul (7 years old) and Virginia (4 years old). The maid became so attached to the children that the lady made comments to her about this. The lady had an uncle, the Marquis of Gremanville, who tried to appear as a pure-blooded aristocrat, and a solicitor, Monsieur Buret, whom the servant and the children loved very much.
Once there was a misfortune: a bull attacked Mme Aubin and the children in the presence of Feliste in the meadow. Felicite saved her mistress and children from him. This event greatly impressed the local population.
Virginia fell ill with fright. She was taken to the sea bath in Trouville. There, the girl went on the mend. Then Felicite began to lead Virginia to the lessons of the law of God.
III
In the lessons of the Law of God, Felicite did not really understand what they were talking about. Soon, when Virginia learned her lessons, Felicite began to imitate her in everything - she prayed, fasted. Anxiously she gathered Virginia for the first communion.
The lady decided that the girl should receive a better upbringing, and decided to send her to the Ursuline boarding school in Gofler. Felicite was sorry to part with Virginia. To "dissipate" from the sadness of parting, she asked the lady's permission to invite her nephew Victor. But Victor was taken on a long voyage. At this time, the holidays came, and the children returned home. Paul became moody, and Virginia became a grown girl. The children have become estranged from the servant who loves them so much.
It's time to say goodbye to her nephew, but Felicite did not have time: when she arrived at the dock, the ship had already sailed away.
Virginia, having gone to the boarding house, began to feel unwell, and wrote to her mother less and less. One day she did not write home for four whole days. Felicite tried to console the lady, saying that her nephew had not written to her for six months, but the lady was inconsolable.
Felicite learned from the pharmacist that her nephew was in Havana. She decided to find out where it was and turned to Monsieur Bure. He showed her this place on the map, and she asked to show her the house where Victor lives. Monsieur Buret laughed at the naivete of the servant.
Later, Felicite learns that her nephew is dead. He suffered from yellow fever, which they tried to cure by bloodletting, as a result of which he lost a lot of blood and died.
Virginia felt worse and worse, and she also died. For two days Felicite did not leave the body of the deceased, thinking that she would come to life: after all, for her simple soul, the supernatural is a common thing. Madame Aubin's grief was endless.
Years, similar to each other, dragged on. But once Madame Aubin was given the parrot by the wife of the Sub-Prefect Larsonière after Felicite said that the lady was not averse to having such a parrot.
IV The
name of the parrot was Lulu. Since he was an unclean bird, the lady decided to give him to Felicite. Felicite fell in love with the parrot very much - after all, he is from the lands where her beloved nephew died.
One day the parrot got lost, and Felicite was terrified looking for him everywhere. But the bird itself returned home. Until the end of her life, Felicite could not fully recover from the experience.
The maid began to lose her hearing; soon she heard only the voice of her parrot. She loved her pet dearly: she talked, caressed him. For her, he became almost a son, a lover.
On a terrible winter evening in 1837, Felicite found Lula dead in a cage. The maid's grief knew no bounds. The lady gave the order to make a stuffed animal out of the bird, so that the servant would not be killed like that.
Soon an important event happened: the matured Paul got married and came to his mother with his wife. The daughter-in-law, daughter of the controller, behaved arrogantly and insulted Felicite.
The following week, Ms. Aubin received word thathad died. After checking the documents, the lady realized that he had been deceiving her all his life, forging documents and doing fraudulent schemes behind her back. She became seriously ill and died. Felicite mourned bitterly for her mistress.
Her health was getting worse - her eyesight was falling, she almost lost her hearing. She later fell ill with pneumonia. On the eve of the feast of the body of the Lord, she asked to call the priest. An old stuffed parrot was brought to the maid to say goodbye to him.
V
Letting out his last breath, Felicite seemed to see a giant parrot hovering over her head in the wide-open sky.