Her point of view

It was at about this time, that is to say, the beginning of winter, that I endeavored to appear seized with great musical fervour.

One evening when Charles was listening to me, I began the same piece four times over, each time with much vexation, while he, not apparently noticing any difference cried–

“Bravo! Very good! You are wrong to stop. Go on!”

“Oh no; it is execrable! My fingers are quite rusty.”

The next day he begged me to play something again.

“Very well; to please you.”

And Charles confessed that I had gone off a little. I played wrong notes and blundered; then, stopping short–

“Ah! It is no use. I ought to take some lessons; but–” I bit my lips and added, “Twenty francs a lesson, that’s too dear!”

“Yes, so it is–rather,” said Charles, giggling stupidly. “But it seems tome 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!” I said.

The next day when he came home he looked at me 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 and excellent mistress.”

I shrugged and did not open the piano again. But when I passed by it (if Bovary were there), I would sigh–

“Ah! My poor piano!”

And when anyone came to see me, I did not fail to inform them I had given up music, and could not begin again now for important reasons. Then people commiserated me–

“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. I replied bitterly that it would be better to sell it. This poor piano that had given me so much satisfaction.

“If you liked,” he said, “a lesson from time to time, that wouldn’t after all be very ruinous.”

“But lessons,” I replied, “are only of use when followed up.”

And thus it was I set about obtaining my husband’s permission to go to town once a week to see my lover. At the end of a month I was even considered to have made considerable progress.

 

######

His point of view:

It was about this time, that is to say, the beginning of winter, that she seemed seized with great musical fervour.

One evening when I was listening to her, she began the same piece four times over, each time with much vexation, while I, 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 I begged her to play me something again.

“Very well; to please you!”

I confess 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,” I said. “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 I came home I looked at her, 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, 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 me about it. They put me 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 I 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 me like the indefinable suicide of a part of herself.

“If you liked,” I 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 my permission to go to town once a week for her lesson. At the end of a month she had made considerable progress.

Instructor Response

Good work. Certainly worthy of an A. And the shift of POV gives the irony of her “advancement” a different slant. Flaubert is an expert at having lots happening beneath the surface of a scene; here Emma’s scheming and Charles’ innocence. Again, the subsurface understanding also shifts. The entire idea of the exercise is to see how important POV (and voice) is in developing the subtleties of fiction.

Although second-person is rarely useful, you might take a look at this recent post re: second-person narration to compare effects. And then, if so inclined, you might read Reddog, a first-person-narration story where an unreliable narrator suffers an enlightenment about himself and loses the only person with whom he has contact; the story is entirely in a close first person, with all its limitations and advantages, and is useful to explore how the story would be structured in different points of view. Narrator at a distance. A close third in the girl’s POV. And multiple third using the protagonist and the girl. How would the effectiveness of the story be altered? You might give it a try for practice.

Thanks for the submission. And you’re welcome to submit other work as a comment here, or through the Mentor’s Corner. All the best in your writing.

WHC
1/10/13

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