Purpose: Using a famous scene by Flaubert, change the POV (twice) to practice writing in different POV’s and to learn advantages, disadvantages, and restrictions each point of view presents. Be aware:
Change in POV may change impact of irony.
1st person POV is limited in psychic and physical distance from the action and requires special skill to maintain credibility of character and story.
3rd person and narrator POVs allow more story information, setting, and emotions (and desires) to be presented objectively.
The choice of POV for a story should have a purpose that relates to story effectiveness and reader understanding and enjoyment.
Read: Scene from Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Part three, Chapter four. (For complete online text, click here.) 510 words. Predominantly narrator POV, with 3rd person POV sometimes used or suggested.
Passage for revision
It was about this time, that is to say, the beginning of winter, that she seemed seized with great musical fervour.
One evening when Charles was listening to her, she began the same piece four times over, each time with much vexation, while he, not noticing any difference, cried–
“Bravo! Very goodl You are wrong to stop. Go on!”
“Oh, no; it is execrable! My fingers are quite rusty.”
The next day he begged her to play him something again.
“Very well; to please you!”
And Charles confessed she had gone off a little. She played wrong notes and blundered; then, stopping short–
“Ah! it is no use. I ought to take some lessons; but–” She bit her lips and added, “Twenty francs a lesson, that’s too dear!”
“Yes, so it is–rather,” said Charles, giggling stupidly. “But it seems to me that one might be able to do it for less; for there are artists of no reputation, and who are often better than the celebrities.”
“Find them!” said Emma.
The next day when he came home he looked at her shyly, and at last could no longer keep back the words.
“How obstinate you are sometimes! I went to Barfucheres today. Well, Madame Liegard assured me that her three young ladies who are at La Misericorde have lessons at fifty sous apiece, and that from an excellent mistress!”
She shrugged her shoulders and did not open her piano again. But when she passed by it (if Bovary were there), she sighed–
“Ah! my poor piano!”
And when anyone came to see her, she did not fail to inform them she had given up music, and could not begin again now for important reasons. Then people commiserated her–
“What a pity! she had so much talent!”
They even spoke to Bovary about it. They put him to shame, and especially the chemist.
“You are wrong. One should never let any of the faculties of nature lie fallow. Besides, just think, my good friend, that by inducing madame to study; you are economising on the subsequent musical education of your child. For my own part, I think that mothers ought themselves to instruct their children. That is an idea of Rousseau’s, still rather new perhaps, but that will end by triumphing, I am certain of it, like mothers nursing their own children and vaccination.”
So Charles returned once more to this question of the piano. Emma replied bitterly that it would be better to sell it. This poor piano that had given her vanity so much satisfaction–to see it go was to Bovary like the indefinable suicide of a part of herself.
“If you liked,” he said, “a lesson from time to time, that wouldn’t after all be very ruinous.”
“But lessons,” she replied, “are only of use when followed up.”
And thus it was she set about obtaining her husband’s permission to go to town once a week to see her lover. At the end of a month she was even considered to have made considerable progress.⇑click here to hide text
Timeline: a few days. Conflict: Charles is not thrilled with Emma’s desire for piano lessons and is unaware she wants to be with her lover. Style: mainly dialogue.
1. Rewrite the passage in Emma’s first person POV. Keep the same timeline and conflict. As you change pronouns, be sure dialogue and text are reasonable for this point of view. Also, some of the ideation, and credibility, in third person may not be reasonable in first person; note especially some of the expressions of commiseration, which Emma might not know about, especially in the detail presented, unless heard directly. Adjustments may be needed; try to figure a way to deliver it effectively. Note how the adverb “bitterly” near the end pushes the point of view slightly toward Emma from the narrator . . . subtle but can be important for clarity and style in revision.
Note how the effect of a line such as “But lessons,” she replied, “are only of use when followed up.” changes in different points of view. From the narrator’s view, there is irony. From Charles’s view, there is no irony for him but dramatic irony for the reader. From Emma’s view, it seems merely manipulation with little irony.
2. Rewrite the passage in Charles’s POV. Consider the same issues. Make it fluid; do not loose the pacing; keep story momentum as Flaubert has delivered it; maintain credibility, that is, that this character could be real (important for significant meaning, irony, and reader knowing scene’s purpose; and to challenge you as you work in new points of view). Try not to lose the humor of this passage. Keep the story line clear.
500 word limit for each POV revision, TOTAL WORD LIMIT 1000.