A Simple Heart (a.k.a. A Simple Soul)
- A Simple Heart is a work by Gustave Flaubert that was originally published in French in 1877. Also called "Un Coeur Simple" or "Le Perroquet", it is a story about a servant girl named Felicité. After her one and only love Théodore purportedly marries a well-to-do woman to avoid conscription, Felicité quits the farm she works on and heads for Pont l'Évèque where she immediately picks up work in a widow's house as a servant. She is very loyal, and easily lends her affections to the two children of her mistress, Mme Aubain. She gives entirely to others, and although many take advantage of her she is unaffected. She is the epitome of a selfless character, and Flaubert shows how true altruism – the reality of being truly selfless – is the reward in itself. Whatever comes her way she is able to deal with it. She has no husband, no children, and no property, and is reliant on her mistress to keep her; she is uneducated, which bars her visits to the Church; her death is virtually unnoticed. Despite her life being seemingly pointless, she has within her the power to love, which she does even when she does not receive it in return. She also carries within her a yearning, a majestic quasi-religious sensibility which finds its apotheosis in the deification, as she dies, of her pet parrot who floats above her deathbed masquerading as the Holy Ghost, the love she shows to the parrot being symbolic of her altruism. She lives a bestial, unexamined life. In the end, however, she feels love and spiritual awakening.