This article examines literary criticism's uses of the Möbius strip, concentrating on its associations with impasse, inaccessible meaning, and narrative dead ends. It juxtaposes the Möbius strip (1858) with Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1857). Flaubert's novel resonated as real or realist despite its many symbolic dead ends and unrealistic descriptions. The Möbius strip, on the other hand, despite its evocative and provocative metaphoric quality, tends to lend theoretical texts an impression of intellectual preciousness or inapplicability. Comparing this impression to Madame Bovary's apparent realism, I analyze how literary theory may be absorbing and perpetuating outside uncertainties about the discipline.