In this specific time, that is to say, is the beginning of winter, she seems seized with great musical fervor.

On this evening while I listen, she begins the same piece four times over, each time with much vexation, while I, not noticing any difference, cry–

“Bravo! Very good 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!”

And I confess she has gone off a little. She plays the wrong notes and blunders them in her composition; then, stops short–

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

“Yes, so it is–rather,” said I, 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 she came home I looked at her and hid in my shyness, and at last she 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 shrugs her shoulders and regrets to open the lid of her piano again. But when she passes by it (if Bovary were there), she sighs–

“Ah! My poor piano!”

And when anyone comes to see her, she will not fail to inform them she has given up music, and cannot begin again now for important reasons.  People commiserate her–

“What a pity! She has so much talent!”

They even have spoken to Bovary 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 economizing 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 return once more to this question of her piano. She replies bitterly that it would be better to sell it. This poor piano has given her vanity so much satisfaction–to see it go is to Bovary like the indefinable suicide, she’d lose a part of herself.

“If you like,” I say, “a lesson from time to time, that wouldn’t after all be very ruinous.”

“But lessons,” she replies, “are only of use when one follows up.”

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

Instructor Response

Well done. You’ve achieved different reactions in the reader, in intensity and in meaning, by changing the POV. This is especially true in the irony. I always react to this piece as an example of great writing. It has provided for me new insights on how a change in POV can, especially in character-based fiction, adjust the effect of a well-written scene with irony (and outright humor) for the reader. Great job. Your changing of the tense from past to present is interesting. It does make a difference–one that, I think, would be different for each reader. I don’t know how or why, but I think it’s worth contemplation.

All the best, WHC

 

In this specific time, that is to say, is the beginning of winter, I seem (wouldn’t she say “am” in her POV?) seized with great musical fervor.  On this evening while Charles listens, I begin the same piece four times over, each time with much vexation, while he, not noticing any difference, cries–

“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 him something again.

“Very well; to please you!”

And Charles confesses I have gone off a little. I play wrong notes and blunder my composition; then, stopping short–

“Ah! It is no use. I ought to take some lessons; but–” I bite my lips and add, “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 I came home he looks at me shyly, and at last I 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!”

I shrug my shoulders and do not open the lid of my piano again. But when I pass by it (if Bovary were here), I sigh–

“Ah! My poor piano!”

And when anyone comes to see me, I do not fail to inform them I have given up music, and cannot begin again now for important reasons.  People commiserate me–

“What a pity! I have so much talent!”

They even speak 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 economizing 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 returns once more to this question of my piano. I reply bitterly that it would be better to sell it. This poor piano has given my vanity so much satisfaction–to see it go is to Bovary like the indefinable suicide, I’d lose a part of myself.  (This a place where the POV change seems to alter the meaning significantly. In the original:

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.

The piano is only a tool for her schemes. In her POV, she seems to really care about the loss. There is a change in the irony.

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

“But lessons,” I reply, “are only of use when one follows up.”

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

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