Savannah Lamb

Date of Award


First Advisor

Maryann Tebben

Second Advisor

Bernard Rodgers

Third Advisor

Brendan Mathews


In this thesis, I conduct a literary examination of the short story “Un Coeur simple” (“A Simple Heart”), which appeared in Gustave Flaubert’s 1877 collection Trois Contes. It is a “story of a saint”, and narrates the life of a pure-hearted servant in 19th century Normandy. The title of my thesis quotes the infamous last scene in which the main character Félicité has a vision of a stuffed parrot just before her death. Although the popular short story was often considered a perfection of Realist art, it has many elements that have been a point of contention among critics and readers. In an attempt to further understand the place of the short story in literary history and in the Flaubertian canon, the thesis reviews elements of the Realist movement of the 19th century. It uses Francophone and Anglophone critical sources from the 20th and the 21st century to review multiple ways of interpretation. It also considers the role of translation in the interpretation of the text, reviewing five different English translations of “Un Coeur simple.” The thesis culminates in a traditional and personal textual analysis of the text, taking contextualizing elements of my research into consideration.

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