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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 276

Why does Marianne come to torment herself with becoming an exception? . . . being a wife and a mother is enough to give her glory.

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Pierre, in love with Marianne (though he doesn't realize it at first) and upset with her seeming willingness to flirt with the painter Gaucher, wonders why Marianne can't be more conventional. She is an artist of sorts, lives by herself, and loves her solitude; Pierre, although he too loves solitude and has deep affinities with Marianne, worries she will get involved in scandal. The novella as a whole explores the question of being exceptional versus being conventional.

Beauty is like God, which exists by itself and gains nothing from all the hymns and paeans of praise lavished upon it.

Marianne, like a good Romantic, believes that nature in and of itself is enough: it doesn't have to be reproduced by the artist. She believes in the power of a direct, unmediated experience of nature.

We do not learn to see because we are painters but we learn to be painters because we know how to see.

Pierre says this to Gaucher. It shows his natural affinity for Marianne's way of seeing the world and the way they both love nature. They are both pure, in a way the affected, fortune-hunting Gaucher cannot be.

Finally! says Marianne, resuming the way home, it seems to me that I see clearly now; I thought he would never love me!

Marianne comes to see that Pierre loves her. She discovers this not by looking into her own heart, but by looking into his heart. The path will be clear for Marianne and the shy Pierre to marry.

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