One-minute review: Comparison between a woman who thinks she is tragic (Madame) and one who really is (Sophie, the maid), but, of course, who doesn’t complain, though she is horribly overworked and is completely exhausted. Madame cannot stand to see the appearance of real tragedy (“The woman was a walking corpse”), so she commands Sophie to put rouge on her cheeks and gloss on her lips to mask the face of tragedy. But she does not remove the real cause of Sophie’s tragic exhaustion—she continues to work her—hard!
75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World’s Literature. Ed. Roger B. Goodman.