©Marva A. Barnett

FREN 332 Marva A. Barnett
Comment commenter les figures de style:
Quelques exemples d'«Un Coeur simple» écrits par des étudiant(e)s et par le prof

TRANSLATED: How to comment on rhetorical figures: examples from "A Simple Heart" [by Gustave Flaubert], written by FREN 332 students and, in one case, the teacher.

l'énumeration: p. 599, ll. 11-13: «Puis la ville se remplissait d'un bourdonnement de voix, où se mêlaient des hennissements de chevaux, des bêlements d'agneaux, des grognements de cochons, avec le bruit sec des carrioles dans la rue.»
[Then the town was filled with a buzzing of voices, in which the neighing of horses, the bleating of sheep, the snortings of pigs mixed with the dry noise of carriages in the road.]

Flaubert makes a list of the town noises in order to demonstrate the great amount of activity around Mme Aubain's house. He uses this enumeration to paint a mental image for the reader, enabling him or her to hear the story. Thus the reader feels that he or she is in the road with the pigs, sheep, horses, and carriages-the reader is part of the action.

la comparaison: (1) p. 600, l. 12: «. . . la mer, au loin, apparaît comme une tache grise.»

[. . . the sea, in the distance, seemed to be a gray stain.]

This simile gives the sea the quality of a bad omen. Because of this comparison, the sea becomes a great darkness, even a little intimidating.

(2) p. 611, l. 31: «. . . au fond, de grandes herbes s'y penchaient, comme des chevelures de cadavres flottant dans l'eau.»

[. . . at the back, long grasses hung down like the hair of cadavers floating in the water.]

This comparison shows us Félicité's thoughts about Victor [her nephew] (about whose death she has just learned). She is very sad but also agitated; as a result, she sees death in the grass, in the water, everywhere, in effect. The grass, in her imagination, is Victor's damp, limp hair. It is interesting to note also that she imagines that Victor has drowned, even though she doesn't yet know how he died.

la métaphore: p. 607, l. 9: «. . . le troupeau de vierges portant des couronnes blanches . . . .»

[. . . the flock of virgins wearing white crowns . . . ]

By calling the young girls who are taking their first communion "a flock," Flaubert compares them to sheep, thus making an allusion to Christ ("the Lamb") and also to the prayer "Agnus Dei" (ll. 13-14). The word "virgins," as well as the fact that the girls are wearing "white crowns," reinforces the idea of the their innocence. By means of this metaphor (offered perhaps from the point of view of Félicité, who has just felt "anguish" [l. 8]), Flaubert emphasizes the fact that Félicité adores Virginie, who is one of this "flock."

le style indirect libre: p. 606, ll. 8-10: «Pourquoi l'avaient-ils crucifié, lui qui chérissait les enfants, nourrissait les foules, guérissait les aveugles, et avait voulu, par douceur, naître au milieu des pauvres, sur le fumier d'une étable?»

[Why had they crucified him, he who cherished children, fed the masses, cured the blind, and, on account of his gentleness, had desired to be born amongst the poor, on stable dung?]

With this sentence, Flaubert changes what has been an objective point of view ("Then she cried upon hearing the Passion") to one that is very personal: the reader enters into Félicité's thoughts. Her detailed and emotional question shows that Félicité identifies closely with Jesus Christ; she concentrates on his generous and kind actions and sees in them his humanity.