The whitish light of the window-panes was softly wavering. The pieces of furniture seemed more frozen in their places, about to lose themselves in the shadow as in an ocean of darkness. The fire was out, the clock went on ticking, and Emma vaguely wondered at this calm of all things while within herself there was such a tumult.

This passage from Part Two, Chapter VI, describes Emma Bovary’s overriding frustration—that the outside world doesn’t match up with her inner world. Here, Flaubert’s attention to specific details—the clock, the fireplace—allows us to envision Emma’s surroundings vividly, so we can more effectively contrast them with her turbulent emotions. In this scene, she has just returned from asking the priest for spiritual guidance. The cleric had seemed utterly unaware of her distress. In this passage, even the objects in the room seem to be ignoring her distress, increasing her feeling of isolation.