A Simple Heart


Gustave Flaubert

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Félicité Barette

The protagonist of “A Simple Heart,” a poor housemaid living in 19th century France. Félicité is a highly moral, hard-working, and virtuous woman. Félicité is born to working-class parents who die when she is a… read analysis of Félicité Barette

Madame Aubain

A well-off, middle-aged woman who is Félicité’s employer for the majority of the story. She is “by nature, very reserved” and possesses “a certain haughtiness about her.” At the beginning of the story, her husband… read analysis of Madame Aubain

Paul Aubain

Madame Aubain’s eldest child and only son. Félicité treats Paul with great care and affection during his childhood, but as he ages the two grow apart. As a young adult, Paul does not pursue a… read analysis of Paul Aubain

Virginie Aubain

Madame Aubain’s youngest child and only daughter. Like her brother Paul, she quickly becomes a source of joy in Félicité’s life, but does not maintain the same degree of closeness with Félicité as she… read analysis of Virginie Aubain

Nastasie Leroux (Barette)

Félicité’s sister, who she reunites with by happenstance while traveling with the Aubain family to the seaside. Though Félicité is initially overjoyed to reunite with her long-lost family member, paying little heed to Madame Aubain’sread analysis of Nastasie Leroux (Barette)
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Victor Leroux

Félicité’s nephew, the son of Felicite’s sister Nastasie. When Virginie Aubain dies, Félicité develops a close relationship with her nephew. He brings her gifts from his travels, and she provides him with food and… read analysis of Victor Leroux


A wealthy gentleman who pursues young Félicité after a village dance. Though Félicité is initially cautious about the relationship, she eventually falls in love with him, and he soon proposes to her. Though the narration… read analysis of Théodore

Monsieur Bourais

A retired solicitor and friend of Madame Aubain’s, who manages Madame Aubain’s properties for her. Toward the end of the narrative, Madame Aubain and Félicité learn that he has committed suicide after engaging in… read analysis of Monsieur Bourais


An impoverished old man who lives in a “hovel” in Pont-l’Eveque and suffers from a large tumor on his arm. He is said to “have committed terrible atrocities in ‘93” (during the French Revolution). Félicité… read analysis of Colmiche

Monsieur Fellacher

The taxidermist who stuffs the parrot Loulou’s corpse for Félicité. He takes six months--far longer than Félicité expects—to complete the order, causing her great anxiety and making her think that the parrot has been stolen… read analysis of Monsieur Fellacher


The local “butcher’s boy.” Though the narrator states that Fabu has affection for Felicite’s parrot Loulou, Félicité witnesses a moment in which he strikes the noisy bird’s ear out of annoyance, causing her to… read analysis of Fabu

Monsieur Liébard

The “farmer from Toucques,” another town that houses one of Madame Aubain’s properties. Like Robelin, he tries to sell Madame Aubain his wares on Mondays. Liébard is also one of Madame Aubain’s employees, and… read analysis of Monsieur Liébard
Minor Characters
Madame Simon
A resident of Pont-l’Eveque who used to run the grocery in town before it closed. Madame Simon cares for Félicité during the latter portion of her life, particularly when Félicité is suffering from the bout of pneumonia that results in her death.
Monsieur le Curé
the local priest in Pont- l’Eveque. Félicité is so grateful that the priest allows her to place Loulou on the Aubain house’s Corpus Christi altar that she gives the stuffed parrot to him in her will.
Monsieur Robelin
The “farmer from Geffosses,” one of towns in which Madame Aubain owns property. Robelin often tries to sell Madame Aubain “chickens and cheeses” on Mondays.
Madame Liébard
Monsieur Liébard’s wife. Madame Liébard serves the Aubain family (along with Félicité) lunch when they stop at her house on the way to Trouville, a seaside town where they have been recommended to vacation in order to improve Virginie’s ill health.
Marquis de Grémanville
Madame Aubain’s uncle, a man who “had squandered his money on loose living,” and who drinks too much and begins “telling bawdy jokes” whenever he visits his niece.
Paul and Virginie Aubain’s tutor during their childhood, who is described as “a rather pitiful character who worked at the Town Hall.”
Madame David
The owner of the Golden Lamb, a hotel located in the seaside town of Trouville where the Aubains take a vacation.
Monsieur Aubain
Madame Aubain’s husband. Though he has passed away by the time the narrative begins, the narrator notes that “his memory hovered over everything.”
Madame Lechaptois
A friend of Madame Aubain.
Monsieur and Madame Lormeau
Friends of Madame Aubain.
The Rochefeuille Sisters
Friends of Madame Aubain.
Monsieur de Houppeville
A friend of Madame Aubain.
Monsieur Poupart
The Aubains’ family doctor. Monsieur Poupart’s recommendations ultimately fail to cure Virginie Aubain’s illness, and she passes away while attending school in an Ursuline convent.
Baron de Larsonniére
A former American consul who moves to Pont-l’Eveque with his family upon his return to France.
Baroness de Larsonniére
The Baron de Larsonniere’s wife. The Baroness gives Loulou the parrot to Madame Aubain as a gift (at Félicité’s prompting) before her family moves away from Pont L’Eveque, because she finds him to be a tiresome pet.