A Simple Heart and Other Stories

The words "simple" and "simplicity" are very important to this story. How would you describe Félicité's simplicity? Does it seem to be a result of genetics or environment, or as we now refer to it, a result of "nature or nurture"?

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A Simple Heart, story by French writer Gustave Flaubert.

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"As in many of his earlier works, in "A Simple Heart" Flaubert dealt with notions of simplicity, sainthood, religious faith, and duty. Many critics have interpreted this story as a profound but veiled critique of organized religion—particularly the Roman Catholic church in nineteenth-century France— and of its unquestioning following among the bourgeoisie, or middle class. As a realist writer, Flaubert believed the artist must not express his opinions in his works. The story's reputed critique of the Church is not explicit—critics find it conveyed through such techniques as irony and symbolism. Félicité's vicarious devotion to the church through Virginie's first communion experience, while passionate and profound, is also arbitrary and circumstantial. She comes upon her faith by chance, by the simple accident of being required to accompany her young charge to her religion classes. Her devotion to the church is not based on an embrace of its beliefs: "Of doctrines..."

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