What are some quotes from A Woman's Life by Guy de Maupassant?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When she had finished admiring the bed, Jeanne, raising her light, examined the tapestry, trying to discover the subject of the design.

A young noblemen and young lady dressed in the strangest way in green, red, and yellow, were talking under a blue tree on which white fruit was ripening....

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

When she had finished admiring the bed, Jeanne, raising her light, examined the tapestry, trying to discover the subject of the design.

A young noblemen and young lady dressed in the strangest way in green, red, and yellow, were talking under a blue tree on which white fruit was ripening. (13–14)

At the beginning of the book, the young protagonist, Jeanne, is filled with romantic notions. Previously, she lived in a convent, and she has left it to live with her parents in an estate in Normandy. After arriving at the estate, she admires her fine bed and its tapestry. The tapestry depicts a merry, bucolic scene in which a man and woman sit beneath a tree laden with fruit. This scene, which calls to mind the Garden of Eden, represents Jeanne's innocent dreams of what her life will be like once she is married. Later, when her husband, Julien, is physically insensitive towards her after they are married and he introduces her to sex, she sees the tapestry in the background. The tapestry stands for the romantic nature of Jeanne's dreams, which are quite different from the horrors that her marriage will bring to her.

She took the five pieces of gold without another word; she did not dare ask for any more, so she bought nothing but the pistol. (75)

When Jeanne departs on her honeymoon to Corsica with Julien, her mother gives her a purse laden with money. Julien takes the purse from Jeanne and will only give her a small amount of money with which to buy presents. Jeanne had dreamed of what she would buy, but she only winds up buying a pistol for a woman in Corsica who wants to use it to kill her brother-in-law. It is symbolic that Jeanne's honeymoon purse is taken over by her husband, signifying the way he will rob her of her innocence and her heart. It is also symbolic that Jeanne uses the money to buy a pistol rather than the charming presents she had imagined, as her life with Julien will soon turn to violence instead of to love.

Jeanne heard a strange, gushing noise, something like the death-rattle of someone who is suffocating, and then came a long, low wail of pain; it was the first cry of suffering of a child entering the world (98).

To her surprise, Jeanne watches Rosalie, the servant girl, give birth to a child. She later realizes that Julien, her husband, is the father of the child. The way in which Maupassant describes the birth emphasizes its ugliness and suffering more than its glory or celebration. There is only pain and a death rattle (which is ironic because the child is just beginning its life), followed by the suffering of a child with its first breath. By this point in Jeanne's marriage, life is filled only with unhappiness, and there is more unhappiness yet to come. Even birth is full of suffering. This scene is a precursor of Jeanne's later disillusionment and pain.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team