Madame Bovary: Short Review

Gustave Flauberts Madame Bovary tells the story of a womans quest to make her life into a novel. Emma Bovary attempts again and again to escape the ordinariness of her life by reading novels, daydreaming, moving from town to town, having affairs, and buying luxurious items. One of the most penetrating debates in this novel is whether Flaubert takes on a romantic and realistic view. Is he a realist, naturalist, traditionalist, a romantic, or neither of these in this novel?

According to B. F. Bart, Flaubert “was deeply irritated by those who set up little schools of the Beautiful — romantic, realistic, or classical for that matter: there was for him only one Beautiful, with varying aspects…” (206) Although, Henry James has no doubt that Flaubert combines his techniques and his own style in order to transform his novel into a work that clearly exhibits romanticism and a realistic view, despite Barts arguments. Through the characters actions, especially of Emma Bovarys, and of imagery the novel shows how Flaubert is a romantic realist.

Flaubert gives Emma, his central character, an essence of helpless romanticism so that it would express the truth throughout the novel. It is Emmas early education, described for an entire chapter by Flaubert, that awakens in her a struggle against what she perceives as confinement. Her education at the convent is the most significant development in the novel between confinement and escape. Vince Brombert explains “that the convent is Emmas earliest claustration, and the solitations from the outside world, or through the distant sound of a belated carriage rolling down the boulevards, are powerful allurements.” (383)

At first, far from being bored, Emma enjoyed the company of the nuns; “the atmosphere of the convent is protective and soporific; the reading is done on the sly; the girls are assembled in the study” are all primary images of confinement and immobility. (Brombert 383) As this chapter progresses, images of escape start to dominate and Emma begins to become more romantically inclined.

In romantic fashion, she seeks her own, individual satisfaction, she is necesarily doomed in Flauberts eyes. Complete love he envisaged as aspiration, outgoing rather than self-centered. But he made Emma, from the very start, seek only a personal profit from any emotion, even from a landscape. This is what romanticism as she knew it in the convent invited her to desire. In facile, romantic novels the lover and his mistress are so much at one that all desires are held in common. Any romantic girl, Emma for instance, will then suppose that a lover is a man who wants what she wants, who exists for her.

Nothing in Emmas character led her to doubt this, and nothing in her training could teach her otherwise. This, perhaps the most commom and most serious of the romantic illusions, is at the core of Madame Bovary and helps to keep the book alive. (Benjamin 317)
We see this when Emma is seduced by Rodolphe who believes that all woman are exactly alike and love the same way. Unfortuntely for her she sees only illusions as to how romantic Rodolphe is and when he leaves her to return to his old dreary lifestyle his existance as an exhilarating and exciting personality is in Emmas mind and imagination alone.

Madame Bovary: The Tragic Love Triangle of Yonville

Gustave Flubert’s masterpiece, Madame Bovary, was first published in 1857. The novel shocked many of its readers and caused a chain reaction that spread through all of France and ultimately called for the prosecution of the author. Since that time however, Madame Bovary, has been recognized by literature critics as being the model for the present literary period, being the realistic novel period. It is now considered a novel of great worth and one which contains an important and moving plot. In addition, it provides a standard against which to compare the works of writers to follow. It is nearly impossible to truly understand modern European and American fiction without reading, Madame Bovary.

Charles Bovary, the only son of a middle-class family, became a doctor and set up his practice in a rural village. He then married a women who was quite older then himself. He was unhappily married to her saying that “Her dresses barely hung on her bony frame”, This coming right before her death. Upon his wife’s death, Charles married an attractive young women named Emma Roualt, the daughter of one of his patients. Emma married Charles with overwhelming expectations. She thought marriage would be filled with three things, “bliss, passion, and ecstasy”. Emma had a character that was 1) dissatisfied 2) adulterous and 3) free spending. For a while she was excited and pleased by her marriage, but overwhelmed by her new life, she quickly became dissatisfied. As a result of her dissatisfaction she became mentally ill.

For the sake of her health the Bovary’s moved to a new town, Yonville, where their daughter was born. Emma’s unhappiness continued, and she began to have romantic feelings toward Leon, a young law clerk. After Leon left the town in order to attend law school. Emma’s boredom and frustration became more intense after Leon left. She began to forget her role as a wife and mother. Charles tried many times to please but none of his efforts were successful, and she did not value or understand Charles’ love for her. Finally Emma had an adulterous affair with Rodolphe, a local land owner.

Upon realizing Emma’s intentions of an affair with him he states that he is “Gasping for love”, and this wins her heart over. Rodolphe then leaves for a period of six weeks and Emma then becomes seriously ill again. After her recovery, Rodolphe returns and the only explanation for his actions is “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. She then runs across Leon in Rowen and began to resume were they left off. In order to afford the trips to Rowen to see Leon and satisfy her own needs, Emma spent her husbands money freely and incurred many debts. She kept this secret from Charles and managed to obtain a Power of Attorney, so that she would have full control over their financial affairs.

Eventually her unpaid bills went long overdue and judgment was obtained against the creditors. She owed a vast sum of money, and the sheriff’s officers arrived to confiscate the family property. Emma tried frantically to raise the money and finally turning to Leon, but he was unable to help, nor was he willing. She even tried to get back Rodolphe, by saying “I stayed with you, because I couldn’t tear myself away…”, he would have no part of her anymore and unwilling to help. Out of shame and despair of herself, she poisons herself to die. Shortly afterwards, now a ruined and broken man, also died, leaving their daughter to a life of poverty.

Madame Bovary – For Lack of a Better Man

Gustave Flaubert presents one extreme side of human life many would very much rather think does not exist. He presents a tale of sensual symbolism within the life of Charles Bovary. Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, but within the scope of symbolic meaning, the make-up of Charles is addressed. It is representative of deep sadness and a despondent outlook on life whose many symbols are, at times, as deeply embedded in the story line as a thorn in a callous heel. The elements making up the very person of Charles Bovary remain excruciatingly evident, haunting his every move.

Symbolic of his yearning for inner fulfillment, Charles Bovary presents to be a man in search of an unknown sensual satisfaction. It is no wonder, with the detailed writing the French government attempted to censor Flaubert when Madame Bovary was published in 1856. Although the vast majority of theorems penned revolve about the life of Emma, the character of Charles requires examining.

In the opening scenes, Charles Bovary is seen entering a favorite dive of escape, an escape from the realities of life. The cafs he frequented appear as dirty public rooms (Flaubert 834) housing his passion for the game of dominoes. His obsession and pleasure from this simple entertainment are exposed as Flaubert describes Charles entrance into the den of dominoes. [His esteem] was beginning to see life, the sweetness of stolen pleasures; and when he entered, he put his hand on the door handle with a joy almost sensual (Flaubert 834). What, other than a profound uneasiness within his personal life, could bring about so explicit a pleasure from the entering to a dark, dank room?

Charles life as a student of medicine is one of avoidance. His lack of sincerity and devotion is shown via the mother hen role, which his mother took in excusing his inadequacies. His insincerity and hypocrisy is indicative of one with no foresight. He lives now, exists now, and thinks now, not of what is to come, but of what is now. The author explains how he grew passive toward his presumed goal: medicine. In the beginning, he would miss one lecture in a day. Then, the next day, he would miss all lectures. Eventually, because of his inner thirst for self-satisfaction, he would become idle to the point he would give up work altogether (Flaubert 834).

Charles is a grown man. He is a student of medicine. Yet, he has his mother making justifications for him. She excused him, threw the blame on his failure on the injustice of the examiners, and took upon herself to set matters straight (Flaubert 834). Is it no wonder, with a character flaw such as this maternal control, later in the story adultery and betrayal would plague his marriage? On the one hand, there is Charles who is excused and exhaulted by his mother. His father, five years later and on learning the truth, expresses how he could not believe that one born of him could be such a fool (Flaubert).

Conversely, there is Emma. Emma has her decision made on her behalf by her father the day of Charles last visit before the engagement. Flaubert represents the affirmative answer to Charles alleged proposal by the banging of the shutter as her father turns and walks toward the house. She is, we can only assume, ready to be the wife of a doctor, it making no difference his lack of expertise as a physician, not to mention his lack of masculinity.

Charles is a pitiful sight to see. His rebellious nature toward the attaining of the goal of physician, as obviously prescribed by his parents, is directly related to Flauberts rebellion toward France in relation to enforced censorship. The mandatory overseeing of literature, and limitations thereof, are of prime importance when digesting Madame Bovary.

The many symbolism methods commonly referred to within Madame Bovary are still obviously there. There is the wedding in the pasture where Emma is forced to stop to remove litter from her dress. The obstacles of her future happiness lie beneath her fringe. She is said to stop to raise the hem of her dress, and carefully, with her gloved hands, to pick off the wild grasses (Flaubert). Her happiness falls by the wayside. The plaster priest falls and breaks symbolic of Charles future failures in his wonderful world of medicine. Furthermore, this is directing the reader toward the eventual demise of the marriage.

Nevertheless, it is the continued usage by Flaubert of sexual innuendoes and expressive words that bring one to realize France may very well have been correct in its attempt to censor. To understand an author is to read between the lines, then draw conclusions. My conclusion is that Flaubert uses specific scenes to symbolize his flamboyance toward being bawdy. Sometimes she would draw; and it was great amusement to Charles to stand there, bolt upright and watch her bend over her paper, with eyes half-closed the better to see her work (Flaubert 856). The better to see her work? Perhaps in the eyes of a creator, ones cleavage can be considered work.

Although it is talent that allows a writer to use and coordinate symbolic meanings within his works toward a specific goal, the plainspoken truth is more easily ingested and digested. There is merit in the skilled stating of ideals, symbolism in place, without making ones audience uncomfortable. However, within the pages of Madame Bovary lie a continuous excess of implication, insinuation, and suggestion.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert: Review

The novel Madame Bovary was written by Gustave Flaubert in 1856. Flaubert was born in 1821, in Rouen, France. His father, being a doctor, caused him to be very familiar with the horrible sights of the hospital, which he in turn uses in his writings. In this novel, Charles Bovary, an undereducated doctor of medicine has two wives in his life. The first, Madame Dubuc, died. Emma Rouault, his second wife, after many affairs commits suicide. The doom of Charles and Emma’s marriage is described by an elaborate connection of symbolic relations. The relationships of the shutter’s sealing bang, Emma’s long dress that keeps her from happiness, the plaster priest that conveys the actions of the couple, the restless greyhound, and Emma burning her wedding bouquet are all images of eternal doom to the couple’s marriage.

Charles Bovary first met Emma Rouault when he was on a medical call to fix her father’s broken leg. Not long after his arrival Emma catches his interest. Her actions satisfy his hearts need for a young, fresh mind and body. The old widow that he is currently married to dies of chagrin. Charles is sadden by this but his mind stays on Emma. After frequent visits to her farm, even after her father’s leg was healed, Charles gives a thought about if he would like to marry Emma but he is uncertain. Her father sees Charles’ interest in his daughter and takes it upon himself to engage the two. He waits until Charles is departing and then confronts him about the engagement. As expected Charles accepts the marriage and the father runs to the house to receive Emma’s acceptance. This was to be shown by the opening of a shutter door. “Suddenly he heard a sound from the house: the shutter had slammed against the wall; the catch was still quivering” (Flaubert 21). The sound that the shutter makes is the beginning of an end. The bang seals the never-ending doom of the couple’s marriage (Turnell 101).

Emma’s wedding is a special occasion. It is held in the far off pasture of their farm. After all the guests arrive the wedding procession proceeds to the pasture. As they walk “…she stopped to raise it [her dress], and daintily, with her gloved hands, to pick off the wild grasses and prickly thistles” (Flaubert 23). Her dress is symbolic of the obstacles to her happiness. She is at her wedding and she has to stop and pick grass and twigs off of her dress. The fact that she is suppose to be happy at her wedding and she is not, is the obstacle. Another example Flaubert gives mentions how Rodolphe “without slowing down, leaned across whenever it happened, and pulled it loose…” (Flaubert 137). By helping her remove her dress from the snagged stirrup, he was clearing the obstacle and was able to make Emma happy. Unlike Charles who simply stood by and waited at his wedding. Emma’s dress is an obstacle with her lovers (Turnell 103).

The plaster priest, first seen in Tostes in Emma’s garden, is symbolic of the pride of their marriage and later the deterioration of their religion. As she examines the garden for the first time she notices the plaster priest posed reading the bible. As time goes on the plaster on the priest starts to flake off, showing the demoralization and fragileness of her religion (Turnell 103). The foot of the plaster figure also breaks off over time. This is symbolic of the future failures in Charles’ medical practices. The plaster priest continues to be a symbolic figure in Charles and Emma’s lives. Emma becomes depressed due to her failing attempts to be accepted as high class. Charles, showing concern with Emma’s health when she begins drinking vinegar and coughing from the depression, arranges a move to Yonville. The plaster priest falls off the cart and “…shattered into a thousand pieces…” (Flaubert 76) at the arrival to Yonville. This event foreshadows the doom of the end of their marriage (Turnell 103).

While in Tostes Charles receives a greyhound from a patient. Emma has previously seen pictures in the convent she spent her childhood in, of high-class people walking their greyhounds. Due to that Emma is always seeking to be considered high-class, especially after being invited to the ball unknowingly just as the high-middle class representative of her community. She thinks the ownership of a greyhound will enhance her social status. One day as she sits under a pavilion, allowing her dog to roam aimlessly, she begins to think of how bad her marriage is and how she wants out. “‘Oh, why did I ever get married?”‘ These are the first thoughts of the marriage’s damnation. As the greyhound wanders through the park it symbolizes the restless heart and mind of Emma. Emma becomes depressed when she finds out that she is not invited to the ball this year. The depression is so deep that Charles has to move them to Yonville. The greyhound runs away on their way and pushes Emma’s depression over the edge and she continues the thoughts of a doomed marriage (Turnell 103).

At the beginning of their marriage Emma and Charles come back to his house. Charles has not taken “the other bride’s bouquet!” out of his room until “She looked at it.” He then takes it to the attic. Emma sees this and automatically thinks of what will be done with her bouquet. As Emma’s thoughts drift away from Charles and her marriage to him, she finds herself pursuing other affairs. These affairs led her to the end of her marriage. She burns her wedding bouquet. This symbolizes the end of their doomed marriage. The ashes that fly into the air are compared to black butterflies, which takes upon itself a mortifying image of the delicacy of Emma and yet her dark, unrelenting urn to end the horrible marriage that she is trapped in (Turnell 103).

These symbolic relationships represent Charles and Emma’s doomed marriage. Flaubert shows that from the day he made them meet until death does them part they are doomed and will not succeed in love or happiness.

Works Cited

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. 1857. Trans. Lowell Bair. New York: Bantam, 1981.

Turnell, Martin. “Madame Bovary.” Flaubert: A Collection of Critical Essays. Ed. Raymond Girauld. Twentieth Century Views. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice, 1964. 97-111.

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

This book is definitely a novel. It has all the elements of a true love story. It has a lovesick woman, who has her head filled with notions of a life that will live on happily-ever-after. It is made complete by the death of the heroin. The outside world is a major influence on this novel. It may be that it is romantic because it was written at the earliest stages of the romantic movement. It also helped revitalized the movement. It gave future romantic writers a model with which to follow.

Romanticism at that time believed that the universe was not a machine; that nature and humanity were connected; that feeling was as important to humanity as reason; and that society along with individuals could change and grow uncontrollably. Most young girls are blinded by fantasies of love and adventure, but Emma is more concerned with them than most. Being raised in a convent and having many opportunities to read, her head was full of dreams of undying love and adventure. To Flaubert there were two defects in romanticism.

One was the people that joined it but really did not understand it. Then there were those that only joined the cause because it was a way of hiding the reality that they lived in. This novel is also symbolic. Throughout the story many different examples of symbols are used. One such example is Emma’s repeated dreams of travel and their ironic parallels. These are symbols of her romantic visions and their answering reality. The viscount and his cigar case are symbols of a romanticized aristocracy. Throughout the story the color blue is used as a symbol for happiness.

This story is told first by a narrator. The narrator is said to be one of Charles old classmates, but he is gone by the middle of the chapter. Being the narrator he adds intimacy, authority, and immediacy. Using him as a narrator is practical to the point that he knows all about Charles. In the beginning of the book it is important to the story plot to know as much about Charles as possible, because he will be to main object of Emma’s dissatisfaction with her unromantic lifestyle.

Charles’ classmate is eventually phased out as the narrator because he could not add anything more to the story. In chapter five the reader starts to take the point of view of Emma’s consciousness. This is the first time the reader can see exactly what she is thinking. At this point in time we can see she is beginning to become disgusted with Charles. The major point of view that is shown throughout the story is third person omniscient.

Madame Bovary is both orthodox and unorthodox in its story plot organization. Some scenes scattered throughout the book are told through the use of a flashback. One such flashback is when Charles describes his parents. He tells about them in an earlier time and place. Also, Emma tells the reader about some of her memories of the convent and also about her father’s farm. Another flashback that occurs often in the book is when Emma has her spells of religious enthusiasm, and when she does this she reverts back into an earlier mood or character.

Gustave Flaubert’s characterization of Emma is very eccentric and complex. It is almost to the point of being confusing. Through his mastery of language, Madame Bovary can be interpreted as a brilliant example of romanticism. Emma’s sentimentality is learned at a very early age, because she was raised in a convent. Throughout the book her tendency toward her dream world was also started in the convent. She constantly searched for the mystic and the unusual rather than the real world. She spent all of her time dreaming of the extreme romantic view of knights in shining armor and being queen of an old castle.

She shut out the dull routine of everyday life because it hurt her to see her life as it really was. After her marriage to Charles, she still continued to dream of her perfect romance filled life. When she saw that marriage was not all that it was suppose to be, rather than trying to love her husband more, she spent all of her time and energy chasing dreams that would never come true. She was never satisfied with her life and was always trying to change it.

Longing for romantic satisfaction, she tried many different things to keep herself occupied and happy, but she soon became bored and moved on to something new. This endless search made her so tired that she eventually became sick. In some of her final attempts to achieve this romantic happiness, she commits adultery. The first man’s name is Leon. Leon is exactly like Emma. He never finds emotional happiness and in a short time he leaves Emma. Emma then meets Rodolphe and she is ready to give herself away to him as soon as they meet. Rodolphe is a womanizer.

He understood right away that Emma was tired of her husband and wanted to have an affair. He is only interested in seducing her and when he leaves her for six weeks, it only makes her want him more. Then there was also Lheureux. Emma, like all romantic characters she had read about, was also suicidal. In her reading, which was at the height of the romantic movement, it was typical for young men and women to kill themselves because their “true love” had left them. Flaubert revealed through Emma weaknesses of the sentimental and literary romantic.

Madame Bovary is iconoclastic because of its attacks on the social middle class. Flaubert illustrates that the middle class of his time was full of typical middle class conventions and myths of progress. In doing this he showed their weakness and stupidity. He also shows the fact that some of his characters cannot seem to be able to communicate with each other. Through these ways, Flaubert’s novel could be set in anytime and anyplace, the only things that would have to change are the costumes and some of the dialog.

In Madame Bovary, Flaubert is portraying a phase of French life around the time of the romantic movement. In Madame Bovary he depicts a life of a typical young lovesick girl through Emma. At the height of the romantic movement all girls dreamed that their lives would be filled with the stuff from the story books. When many of these girls found that their dreams would never be like any book they had read, they could no longer live with themselves knowing they would never be happy. Like Emma, these young girls would often kill themselves rather than face the world without love.

Throughout the novel Flaubert uses many different styles. One of them is his use of repetition. All of Emma’s three loves are the same and therefore show repetition. For Emma all of them in the beginning of their relationships are filled with illusions. With all of them she later tries to hide their shortcomings and excite their passion for her. She finally goes through a period of rationalism, and realizes that everything she had dreamed them to be was in her head.

The way in which Flaubert creates a mood with his description of a particular event, is also a very evident type of style. This style is evident in Emma’s first disillusionment in part one, chapter seven, her walk with Leon in part two, chapter three, and also in her suicide attempt in part two, chapter thirteen. Another style of Flaubert’s is the use of two different actions at the same time to create effect. Some examples are when Emma and Leon’s first conversation is going on and at the same time Homais and Charles’s conversation is going on. He also used a style called contrasting episode. One such event was Emma’s wedding opposed to the La Vaubyessard ball.

Madame Bovary is Flaubert’s most typical and most popular book and it gave its author fame posthumously. In this book he combined the longing for the ideals of romanticism and the objective outlook of realism. This book brought Flaubert and the French novel into a higher level of development. It served as a model to later writers of the romantic period and set the tone for all romantic writing. Flaubert said that the basis of his character Emma was non other than himself. Most of his critics, however, say that most of Emma’s character was based on pure imagination and nothing more.

Bibliography

Draper, James P. World Literature Criticism: 1500 to the Present. Detriot: Gale Research Inc., 1992.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary: the brilliant modern translation by Lowell Bair. New York: Bantam Books Inc., 1972.
Gustave Flaubert. 2001. On-Line Internet. 16 August, 2001. AvailableWWW:http://perso.wanadoo.fr/jb.guinot/pages/accueil.html.
Magill, Frank N. Mauter Plots: Comprehensive Library Edition. Vol.2. New York: Salem Press Incorporated, 1983.
Thorlby, Anthony. The Penguin Companion to European Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1969.

Gustave Flaubert and Madame Bovary: Comparisons

We would like to think that everything in life is capable, or beyond the brink of reaching perfection. It would be an absolute dream to look upon each day with a positive outlook. We try to establish our lives to the point where this perfection may come true at times, although, it most likely never lasts. There’s no real perfect life by definition, but instead, the desire and uncontrollable longing to reach this dream. In the novel Madame Bovary, it’s easy to relate to the characters as well as the author of this book. One can notice that they both share a fairly similar view on life, and that their experiences actually tie in with each other.

Emma Bovary dreamed of a life beyond that of perfection as well. She realizes that she leads an ordinary and average life, but simply does not want to abide by it. In the novel, Emma meets a pitiful doctor named Charles Bovary. The first time they meet, Charles falls instantly in love with her. They begin to see more and more of each other until Charles asks Emma’s father for her hand in marriage. They end up getting married and everything goes fine, just like a normal couple, for awhile. They did things with each other, went out, and were extremely happy.

Although, this love and passion for life shortly ended when Emma’s true feelings began to come about. We soon come to realize that “the story is of a woman whose dreams of romantic love, largely nourished by novels, find no fulfillment when she is married to a boorish country doctor” (Thorlby 272). This is completely true because Emma really does get caught up in her reading. She wonders why she can’t have a flawless love as well as a flawless life, just as the characters do in the novels she reads. Once Emma becomes fed up and realizes that he is “a sad creature” (Flaubert 78), she begins her little quest to find the right man through a binge of affairs and broken hearts. The author of Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, was born in Rouen France (Kunitz 280).

He grew up in a rather wealthy and prosperous family as a result of his father being a successful doctor (Kunitz 280). This could easily relate to the fact that Charles Bovary was a doctor too. During Flaubert’s younger years, he was alone most of the time. He didn’t have any friends and normally spent his days in solitude. This gave him time to focus on his literature (Flaubert i). Since Flaubert’s academics and knowledge of literature were released at such an early age, it is explainable to see how his profound talent was released (Flaubert i). He began to write plays at around the age of ten. These were in-depth, romantic plays that adults would learn to appreciate (Kunitz 280).

At that time Flaubert focused his attention on the study of History and the writings of numerous romantics as well (Kunitz 280). Flaubert was later sent to an intermediate school in Paris to further strengthen his academic standings (Kunitz 280). Upon completion of that, he enrolled into law school but found no interest in it (Thorlby 250). This allowed him to do some drifting, while taking the time to realize that literature would be his destiny (Kunitz 281). Although all of this schooling and work helped Flaubert become an extremely talented writer, he thought writing to be one of the most difficult things (De Man xi). He wrote very slowly in fact, while reflecting on his painful life experiences. It took over five years to perfect his most famous novel, Madame Bovary (Thorlby 272).

Although some people, as well as I, believe that Flaubert based the character of Emma Bovary on himself, he was very unhappy with the subject of the book upon finishing (Thorlby 272). Maybe Flaubert figured her character to be too provocative and heartless. Otherwise, he might have simply reflected upon the theme, and thought it to be uninteresting. In 1856, the novel Madame Bovary was actually condemned as being pornographic. This was a result of Flaubert’s eminently honest and descriptive themes. He, along his publisher were charged with offending public morality and went to trial, but were soon acquitted (Magill 616).

This publicity obviously helped bring the book out into the public while establishing popularity and praise. Sure, Flaubert was probably disappointed when this negative publicity about Madame Bovary. But, he realized that criticism could be ignored and his objective is “to understand humanity, not to explain or reform it” (Magill 616). By reading Madame Bovary, it’s easy to notice that Flaubert is a perfectionist. In fact, he sometimes rewrites his books 3-4 times to establish perfection. When he finished Madame Bovary, he said, “C’est Moi,” meaning in French, “that’s me” (Kunitz 281).

This could symbolize the incredible comparison between Flaubert and the character Emma Bovary. Although Flaubert detested the thought of being famous, his work titled him France’s most renowned writer (Magill 617). According to Sainte-Beuve, Flaubert’s scenes were “pictures which, if they were painted with a brush as they are written, would be worthy of hanging in a gallery beside the best genre painting” (Kunitz 281). In 1846 Flaubert met the poet Louis Colet, who became his mistress. Although he admired her, he couldn’t “find the ideal love” (Kunitz 280). This could symbolize the comparison between Flaubert and Emma as well.

Along with Louis Colet, Flaubert had a few more adulterous relationships too. But, when his work became too important, Flaubert gave up everything to devote himself to his writing. He even broke off his affair with Mme. Colet because got in the way (Thorlby 272). Flaubert soon became a pessimist and basically had a cheerless view of life (Magill 617). He became the victim of nervous apprehension and depression (Kunitz 282). Flaubert frequently felt with drawled from society and longed to commit suicide (Kunitz 282). It’s plain to observe that Flaubert was an idealist that dreamed, just as the characters in his novel did. “These perpetual conflicts,” writes Troyat, who has been listing some of the paradoxes in Flaubert’s life, “made him a profoundly unhappy man” (Kunitz 282).

Emma would sit on the grass into which she would dig the tip of her parasol with brief thrusts and would ask herself, “My God, why did I get married” (Flaubert 108)? Flaubert was the same way, deliberating whether marriage was one of the biggest mistakes to have been made or not. “Madame Bovary,” writes A de Pontmartin in the correspond and, “is the pathological glorification of the senses and of the imagination in a disappointed democracy.” “It proves once and for all that realism means literary democracy” (De Man ix). Emma and Flaubert are very ordinary middle-class people, with banal expectations of life and an urge to dominate their surroundings.

Their personalities are remarkable only for an unusual defiance of natural feelings (Flaubert 152). People even say that the myth surrounding the figure of Emma Bovary is so powerful, that one has to remind oneself that she is fiction and not an actual person (De Man vii). By reading this book, and accurately analyzing the author’s significant events, one can plainly conclude that Flaubert actually did tie in those events with the theme of Madame Bovary.

Madame Bovary is a creation of one’s conscience which can only be explained through the eyes of another. It’s about love, hate, and destiny, while holding every true emotion in the context as well. “Something in the destiny of the heroine and of the main supporting characters, as well as in the destiny of the book itself, surrounds it with the aura of immortality that belongs only to truly major creations” (De Man vii). And it is fair to say that Madame Bovary is a true creation, at least one in the eyes of Gustave Flaubert.

Works Cited

De Man, Paul, ed. Gustave Flaubert: Madame Bovary: Backgrounds and Sources, Essays in Criticisms. New York: W.W. Norton and Co., 1965

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. New York, New York, 1964

Kunitz, Stanley J., Vineta Colby, eds. European Literature (Authors) 1800-1900: A Biographical Dictionary of European Literature. New York: The H.W. Wilson Co., 1967

Magill, Frank N., ed. Critical Survey of Long Fiction: Foreign Language Series. vol. 2; New Jersey: Salem Press Inc., 1984

Magill, Frank N., ed. Cyclopedia of World Authors. New Jersey: Salem Press Inc., 1958

Thorlby, Anthony, ed. The Penguin Companion to European Literature. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1969

Moll Flanders, Madame Bovary & The Joys of Motherhood: Compare

Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood are three novels that portray the life of woman in many different ways. They all depict the turmoils and strife’s that women, in many cultures and time periods, suffer from. In some cases it’s the woman’s fault, in others it’s simply bad luck. In any case, all three novels succeed in their goal of showing what a life of selling oneself short is like through the eyes of a woman.

In Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, a woman, Moll is simply trying to get by and is given a wonderful start because she was born in a prison. Moll Flanders leads a life full of crime and prostitution because she feels it is the only way she can survive. She becomes do dependent on theft that she steals even when she does not need any more luxuries. In Moll Flanders, the reader at times feels bad for the main character because she really has no luck when it comes to husbands or life in general. Yet at other times we resent the fact that she leaves her children and continues stealing for no reason.

Moll Flanders is somewhat ambiguous because the reader does not know whether to feel sorry for Moll’s disadvantages, or feel hatred for her irresponsibility. Moll is somewhat portrayed as ignorant, in that she does not know that what she does is wrong. E. M. Forster wrote that \”A nature such as hers cannot for long distinguish between doing wrong and getting caught.\”

Although there are time when the reader feels bad for Moll and feels that she simply does not know better, there are times when Moll admit that she is doing wrong. However, Moll feels no sympathy for the people she steals from. Even after she stops stealing for some time, she being again without remorse. \”Thus you see having committed a Crime once, is a sad Handle to the committing of it again; whereas all the Regret, and Reflections wear off when the Temptation renews itself\” (184). Moll understands that the crimes she commits are unjust, but she blames temptaion for her delinquency.

The most direct reason that the reader feels sympathy for Moll is because she eventually feels guilt. \”I had the weight of Guilt upon me enough to sink any Creature who had the least power of Reflection left, and had any Sense upon them of the Happiness of this Life, or the Misery of another\” (218). At this point in the novel Moll was not yet repentent, but she did realize her fault. She mostly felt guilt not for the crimes she committed, but for the mere fact that she was caught. After frequent visits from the preist at the prison, Moll is enlightened. \”It was now that I felt any real signs of Repentance; I now began to look back upon my past Life with abhorrence\” (225).

In this novel, the woman is extremely independent, yet she feels the need for a husband in her life at almost all times. Moll continually does things that shock the reader, but we tend to sympathize because of the overall scenario and we ourselves might make some of the same choices she made. \”Whatever she does gives us a slight shock – not the jolt of disillusionment, but without bitterness or superiority. She is neither hypocrite nor fool\” (Forster). Although she tries to put up a front that she can survive through unmoral acts without feeling guilt, she comes to a realization that she is repentant and that there isn’t a way to deny that.

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is the portrayal of a young woman who strives for romance. Throughout this life-long struggle for happiness she ruins the lives of both her daughter and her husband. She participates in numerous affairs and creates an enormaous debt that her husband and child are left with after she commits suicide. In this novel the reader feels no sympathy towards the main character, Emma Bovary. The reader sees Emma as a naive woman with unrealistic veiws on life and love. Emma sells not only herself, but also her husband and daughter, because she creates a situation so unbearable for herself, that her family is left to deal with it.

Emma’s problems begin when she is at the convent and she learns about romantic ideals from novels that she reads. She comes to believe that these storybook romances occur everyday in everyone’s lives. Albert Thibaudet wrote that \”Mme. Bovary is not a sensuous person; she is above all a ‘romantic’, a mental type, as the psychologists would call it; her fault stems from an unbridled imagination rather than from a lack of control over the senses.\”

Her wants for love, luxuries, and overall attention from everyone causes her to do irrational things. A minor example is when Emma was still in the convent. She would concoct little sins so that she would be able to stay in confession and have the attention ofd the priest for longer amounts of time. \”When she went to confession, she invented little sins order that she might stay there longer. . . The comparisons of betrothed, husband, celestial lover, and eternal marriage, that recur in sermons, stirred within her soul depths of unexpected sweetness\” (25). Emma felt guilty pleasure from acts similar to this one and didn’t see how her behavior could be considered unjust because, after all Charles was blind to the damage she was causing.

She sold herself and eventually her possessions because she continually borrowed money to buy unneeded things that she could not afford. She created such an excessive debt that her and Charles’ home and all their possessions were taken from them. Even after all that, Emma knew that Charles would forgive her: \”Step aside! This rug on which you are walking is no longer ours. In your own house you don’t own a chair, a pin, a straw, and it is I, poor man, who have ruined you\” (222). Even after this shocking realization Charles forgives Emma, and Emma replies by saying \”Yes, he will forgive me, the man I could never forgive for having known me, even if he had a million to spare! . . . Never! never!\” (222).

Emma is simply an evil person who over dramatizes anything that involves love and romance. Moll, on the other hand, had much more difficulties in her life yet it seemed that she didn’t complain as much about them. Where as Emma is simply unhappy because of the husband and social status she ended up with, and doesn’t realize that she still has her entire life and that she can create happiness for herself. Instead she decides to find some kind of escape. With both of her lovers she tried to leave Charles and her daughter permanently, but neither succeeded. \”Take me away\” says Emma \”carry me off! . . . I beg you!\” (139). In the end the only escape she can find is her death, which is why she commits suicide.

Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood is another view on life through the eyes of a woman. In this scenario, the woman is convinced that the only way she can achieve self worth is through the production of children. In this novel the reader feels quite sympathetic toward the main character. Her situation seems extremely odd and unconventional compared to today’s customs, because at many times she was somewhat condemned for not having children.

In this book, the main character Nnu Ego literally sold herself to keep faithful to the long lasting traditions. Her husband Nnaife paid a bride price for her: \”Did I not pay your bride price? Am I not your owner?\” (48). This should seem disturbing to the reader, a price was paid so that a man could have a wife and produce male heirs.

Nnu Ego was always taught that a woman’s only purpose in life was to produce children. \”She had been brought up to believe that children made a woman\” (219). So, when he first child randomly died, she thought that she lost all her self worth. \”They all agreed that a woman without a child for her husband was a failed woman\” (62). This affected Nnu Ego very much emotionally, she even attempted suicide.

Nnu Ego came to the realization that the only way she could give her life any meaning would be to have a child. She lowered her standards when it came to her husband and figured that as long as she produced a child, happiness would come to her life. \”O my dead mother, please make this dream come true, then I will respect this man, I will be his faithful wife and put up with his crude ways and ugly appearance. Oh, please help me, all you my ancestors. If I should become pregnant\” (44-45). The reader feels superior sympathy for Nnu Ego because after all she went through and suffered from to produce children and raise them to be happy, she was abandoned by them in the end. Still, Nnu Ego did everything in her power to give everything to her children, and \”The joy of being a mother was the joy of giving all to you children\” (224).

These three previously mentioned novels all consisted of three extremely different woman selling themselves in one way or another to achieve some sort of self worth or ultimate happiness. Although the situations and acts of the characters were considerably different, one must feel some sort of sympathy to these woman. Not only did they lower their standards, but they also went to extreme lengths to achieve a happiness that in most cases never came.

Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. W.W. Norton & Company, New York: 1973.
Emecheta, Buchi. The Joys of Motherhood. Hinemann, Oxford: 1979.
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. W. W. Norton & Company, New York: 1965
Forster, E.M. \”A novel of Character\” from Aspects of the Novel. Harcourt, Brace, New York: 1927.
Thibaudet, Albert. \”Madame Bovary\” from chapter 5 of Gustave Flaubert. Gallimard, Paris: 1935.

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

The story starts as we see Charles Bovary entering a new school in the town of Rouen in France. People laugh at him because he isn’t sure what to do and how to act. He is the son of a doting mother and a very strict father. Charles isn’t sure what to do with his life and therefore does as his mother advices him; to go to medical school. He fails at first because he didn’t work for it in class, but the second time he does and he passes the exam and becomes a doctor in the town of Tostes. He is well liked in town because people see him as a hard working man. Because he is still single and his mother thinks he shouldn’t be, she arranges a marriage only for the money with an ungly widow, Heloise Dubuc.

One day Charles is called to a farm because someone has broken his leg. On the farm he meets Emma Rouault, the daughter of the farm owner. He likesher very much and keeps coming back to her father to check up on his leg, even after his leg hasfully healed. They get on very well and they dicide to get married, even with protest of his former wife which dies soon after because of a stroke. They arrange a huge wedding and loads ofpeople are invited to it. They party on for days and days and there’s food enough for a wholearmy.

Because his practice isn’t where the farmer lives, they return to Tostes. And this is where are the misery starts for Emma. When Charles is out in the country for house visits, Emmajust sits at home doing nothing. All she does is read, watch the rain and she used to play thepiano, but quit because she feels that nobody listened to her anyway. She hoped to get the lovefrom her husband in the same way that the main characters in the novels she read get love, butthat doesn’t happen. She is bored to death. She is starting to get irritated by Charles’ wayof living and the way he behaves sometimes.

One day they go to a party of the maquis and there she meets the life that she wants to live. She doesn’t want Charles to dance because she feelsthat it would embarras her and instead dances the night away with a Viscount and meets all therich. When they return back home, she becomes even more miserable because she misses all thosethings now. Charles notices this and talks with another doctor and together they conclude that a change of scenery might be good for her and they decide to move to Yonville. At the time thatthey move, Emma discovers that she is pregnant.

In Yonville, life isn’t that much different from the life she’d lived before, but now she meets someone who is interested in the same things as she is; Leon Dupuis, a clerk. Emma is now close to giving birth to a baby and she is hoping thatit’s going to be a boy so that he can be strong and free, but her hopes are lost when it turns out that it is a boy; Berthe. As time passes, Emma continues her life and finds out that she isin love with Leon, but they don’t start any relationship.

Eventually, Leon moves to Paris to study there and Emma is again left in misery. Rodolphe meets Emma and she really is attracted to her, but in a sexual way; he thinks that Emma is beautiful. He manages to talk Emmainto seducing her and it works. Emma starts to get more and more interested in Rodolphe and theystart spending more and more time togeter, for example, they go to the agricultural show together. Emma starts meeting him in secret and he even comes to their house where they make love. Rodolphe decides that to keep the love going, he should leave for a few weeks and that’swhat he does.

And it seems to work, because after six weeks, Emma can’t wait to see him again.One day when Emma decides to go back to Rodolphe, she passes passed by Bines, who knew that she had nothing to look for over that side of town because Rodolphe’s house was the last one therehe knew that she wasn’t supposed to be there, so she just made a story and she hoped that hewould fall for it. Now everytime that Charles and she were somewhere and Binet was around, shewould started acting rather strange and Charles definately noticed it. But Charles thought thatit was just again related to her so called illness.

Because Charles wants to keep up with the latest ‘technologies’ in these days and because Emma encourages him to, he buys himself a book about how to cure club-foots and finds it really interesting. He has this friend called Hippolyte and he has a club-foot, so he decides to give it a try on him. But it fails miserabely and he fears for his good reputation. Another doctor later has to be called in to amputate Hippolyte’s leg.

Madame Bovary is in real money problems now, and because she can’t take itall any more and because she really loves Rodolphe very much, she wants torun away with him. Rodoplhe isn’t too sure about this and tries to firstmake her think decently about it and when she says that she’s curtain, hedecides to stretch the date that they are planning to leave as much as possible. He runs away from her and decides not to show up as planned, so he writes her a letter explaining why she shouldn’t run away and why he alsoisn’t going.

So, Rodolphe writes her the letter, which he has great difficulty with. Heasks Girard to send it to her together with some fruit, and when she reads the letter, she’s so shocked and saddened that she becomes incredibly ill and almost dies of this. The only thing she can do now is rest.

Slowly she starts feeling better, but she’s still too weak to do anything.Again, as before, they still have the same bills to pay. This is becauseEmma always had to have the latest of the latest and she never paid on thespot, but she always put it on the bill and that bill was never paid. Andnow the medicaments also have to be paid for…

Charles thinks that a trip to the theatre would do Emma good, because she’snow strong enough to walk on her own feet. Emma really loves the play andshe constantly keeps on imagining that she is the main character and that she just could fly away. When Charles goes out to talk to someone and comesback, he says that Leon is also in the theatre. After the play, they all goout for a drink and they talk about how everything’s going and of course, Emma’s health. Leon mentiones that there’s another performance on in twodays. Emma would love to go, but Charles says that he has his work waitingat home and that it’s not possible for him to stay there. Leon makes an offer that Emma can stay over here for two days and stay with him in Rouen.Charles thinks about it and finally agrees to it.

Leon is finally back again with Emma and they talk about their sorrow andsadnesses and share it with eachother. They decide to meet up the next dayagain at the church. The next day, Leon is there first and he decides to check out the church. When he enters the building, the priest comes up tohim and asks him if he wants to have a tour of the building. Charles saysno. Later on, Emma shows up and again the priest comes up to her with thesame question. Leon says no again, but Emma says that she would love to.He gets really annoyed with the damn tour and calls a cab and takes Emmawith him.

Many hours later, they stop in Beauvoisine district and Emma steps out andenters the inn. Once in the inn, she get the word that she has to go toMonsieur Homais as soon as possible. So she goes there and they tell her that Charles’ father has suddenly died. What has to be done now, is thatall of the will has to sorted out. They need a good lawyer, but not an expensive one and so they decide to call upon Leon. He offers to go, but she says that it would be better that he keeps on eye on the business andthat she’d rather go on her own. So she leaves for Rouen for three days.

She of course has the time of her life in Rouen with Leon and they live their lives in Hotel de Boulonge.

Emma still thinks that she doesn’t see Leon often enough and so decidedes to take up the piano and will now (or at least she says) take private lessons in Rouen.

She visits Leon more often, and when they part again for the week, she’s already longing for the next Thursday that they will meet again.

One day a man comes to their house and he gives her a letter from MonsieurVincart of Rouen with a bill of 700 francs. She said that she would pay itnext week. The next day she gets another letter from Maitre Haring sayingthat she has to come to Monsieur Lheureux to pay all of the bills that shenever paid for. He wants the money now, but of course she doesn’t have it. She was given a piece of paper that said that she had to pay the money (8000 francs) within 24 hours otherwiseall of her belongings would be sold until the sum reached.

Of course, she wasn’t able to pay all of this an the next day, when Charles went out, gentlemencame in and took notes of all the things in her house. She didn’t want this to happen, so shewent out to Maitre Guillaum. He was quite friendly and was willing to pay the money as long ashe could have her as a prostitute. She didn’t want this and quickly ran out. Now the only onethat was left was Rodolphe. She came into his nice house with loads of expensive stuff and whenshe asked for the money, he said that he didn’t have it.

She was so incredibly angry, that shejust took something, threw it away, ran out of the house all the way to the pharmacist’s shop, stuck her hand in a pot of blue stuff and swallowed it. Charled had no clue where the hell shewas hanging out and went looking for her. He couldn’t find her and when he came back home, thereshe was laying on her own. She wanted to be left alone to let the poison work in slowly. And itdid. She started feeling really sick, throwing up like a maniac and getting weaker and weaker.Charles called all of the best doctors and even he himself could do nothing. After a few hours, she passed away.

They finally prepare for the funeral. She got burried and Charles’ saddnes was unmeaserable. People started ignoring him at all costs, he had no friends left. One day, Berthe wanted to playwith him, she gave him a friendly push and he fell to the ground; he was dead.

Symmetry of Narrative in Flauberts Madame Bovary

Over the span of the XIX century, Europes socioeconomic and political reality was transformed by unprecedented changes in technological development.  Urbanization and the emergence of the middle class redefined the social stratification of most European countries.  These dramatic changes did not go unnoticed in art, and particularly in literature.  The idealistic individualism of the romantic era gave way to a movement referred to as realism.  This new wave of literature focused on the observations of everyday contemporary life and attempted to portray it with an almost scientific objectivity.

Gustave Flaubert was one of the foremost writers of the realistic tradition and his novel Madame Bovary became one of the most celebrated works of the time.  Through the use of the free indirect discourse and a changing narrative point of view, Flaubert attempted to keep a level of detachment from his characters and thus to portray reality in as objective manner as possible.  Despite the fact that Madame Bovary is the main character, the novel begins and ends with the point of view of Charles Bovary in order to convey the sense of objectivity characteristic of works of the realistic movement, as well as to reveal a series of ironies inherent in the main characters.

Over the span of the XIX century, Europes socioeconomic and political reality was transformed by unprecedented changes in technological development.  Urbanization and the emergence of the middle class redefined the social stratification of most European countries.  These dramatic changes did not go unnoticed in art, and particularly in literature.  The idealistic individualism of the romantic era gave way to a movement referred to as realism.  This new wave of literature focused on the observations of everyday contemporary life and attempted to portray it with an almost scientific objectivity.

Gustave Flaubert was one of the foremost writers of the realistic tradition and his novel Madame Bovary became one of the most celebrated works of the time.  Through the use of the free indirect discourse and a changing narrative point of view, Flaubert attempted to keep a level of detachment from his characters and thus to portray reality in as objective manner as possible.  Despite the fact that Madame Bovary is the main character, the novel begins and ends with the point of view of Charles Bovary in order to convey the sense of objectivity characteristic of works of the realistic movement, as well as to reveal a series of ironies inherent in the main characters.

Flaubert, like all other realists, wanted to be as objective in his writing as possible.  Certain literary methods allow the author to portray the world he or she creates in a somewhat detached manner.  One of the techniques used in Madame Bovary is referred to as the free indirect discourse.  It involves the change from the linguistic form typical of a direct quote of a characters words or thoughts, to that characteristic of indirect speech.  This method of writing allows the author to present events as the character would have experienced them, as opposed to interpreting them as an omniscient narrator.

Through the use of the free indirect discourse, the author reveals the novels world through the subjective point of view of its characters. In Madame Bovary, the narrator describes only things seen or experienced by the character whose point of view is being expressed at the time and the nature of this description is subjective to the manner in which the character experiences his or her world.  As the point of view switches between the characters, the reader is presented with a series of subjective perceptions, a synthesis of which depicts a theoretically objective reality.

One of the main problems inherent in this subjective technique of description is that of the readers misinterpretation of the intended meaning of the novel.  If Flaubert had shown the world of Madame Bovary entirely through the eyes of Emma, the reader would be bound to eventually accept her interpretation as a correct one and begin relating to her.

Furthermore, the reader would likely assume that Emmas point of view is reflective of that of Flaubert.  Not only would this be detrimental to Flauberts intended effect of objectivity, but more importantly, the continuous implicit criticism of Emma would go unnoticed.  To prevent this from happening, the author had to describe the events of his book through the eyes of more than one character.  It is understandable, therefore, that Emma is first shown through the eyes of Charles Bovary.  The reader gets slowly acquainted with her, as does Charles, and can judge her more accurately when the point of view becomes hers.

The first physical description of Emma is crucial to the readers opinion of her nature: “Charles was surprised by the whiteness of her fingernails.  They were almond shaped, tapering, as polished and shining as Dieppe ivories.  Her hands, however, were not pretty  not pale enough, perhaps, a little rough at the knuckles; and they were too long, without softness of line” (Flaubert 898).  This passage is an example of free indirect discourse, since Emmas hands are described as Charles sees them.  However, the flaws described by the narrator cause the reader to recognize Emma as a peasant girl, not the bourgeois princess she will later see herself as.

Through passages such as this one, Flaubert ensures that the reader will judge Madame Bovary with a certain level of objectivity when the novel switches to her point of view.There is a second, more symbolic reason for the structural frame of Madame Bovary.  The book is not just a story of Emma, but “the history of every woman like her in just such a world as hers, a foolish woman in narrow circumstances; so that the provincial scene, acting upon her, making her what she becomes, is as essential as herself” (Lubbock 80).  Since Emma Bovarys character is a direct product of her environment, a thorough description of that environment is essential to a full understanding of her personality.  This is where the role of Charles Bovary comes in.

Flaubert uses him as a symbol of the shallow, simple world into which the idealistic Emma was born.  The reader is constantly reminded of the inanity of the pitiful, albeit good-hearted, officer de santé.  His characteristics are the quintessence of the provinciality that Emma so despises.  If one accepts Charles as a symbol of Emmas environment, it becomes clear why all her adulterous experiences occur indirectly because of him.  It is due to Charless medical practice that Emma is invited to the ball at which she first meets the Vicomte.  It is also Charles who decides to move to Yonville, which results in her acquaintance with Leon.

She would not have met Rudolph had it not been for the fact that Charles treated his servant.  In other words, Emmas life is constantly unknowingly determined by her husband, which symbolizes the extent to which her experiences are shaped by the world she rebels against and her dependence on it.Having understood the relevance of Charles Bovary, one can explain t…..he reasons for the use of his point of view at the beginning and end of the novel.  The reader is introduced to the provincial reality, embodied by Charles Bovary, by an anonymous narrator distinguishable by the authors use of the pronoun “we”.

This narrator represents the external reality of which the provincial world is a small part.  When the point of view switches to Charless, he introduces the story of the dreaming, idealistic woman who continually tries to escape the provinciality he symbolizes.  Despite her constant attempts at escaping this reality, Emma never gets far from it.  It is not until her death that she recognizes the futility of her escapism, when she finally realizes that the only person who truly loved her was Charles.  After the end of Emmas story, the book switches back to Charless point of view, in other words to the perspective of the provincial world which she was so desperate to run away from, yet with which she was so deeply interconnected.

Finally, after Charless death, the point of view once again returns to the external reality, in the form of the omniscient narrator.  This symmetrical structure of the narration is reminiscent of the cycle of human idealism. Another reason Flaubert uses Charless point of view at the beginning and end of Madame Bovary is to reveal two very ironic elements of the story.  The first of these is the fact that despite their obvious incompatibility, the personalities of Charles and Emma share a number characteristics.  One can find the traits of a dreamer and an idealist in Charles, though not one that is as hopeless as Emma.  He dreamed of running away from the dull life of his parents house, just as Emma dreamed of escaping the dullness of her fathers farm.

Charless ideas of marriage were nearly as idealistic as Emmas: “Charles had envisaged marriage as the beginning of a better time, thinking that he would have greater freedom and be able to do as he liked with himself and his money.” (Flaubert 895)  He was as disappointed with his marriage to Madame Dubuc as Emma would become with her own marriage to him.  Unfortunately for Charles, just as he decided that his relationship with Emma fulfilled his ideal, she concluded the opposite.  Another example of these parallels can be found in a later scene during which Charles and Emma sit beside each other in bed, daydreaming (Flaubert 1016).

Charles is imagining the wonderful future they will have together, while she is imagining the happiness she will find after running away with Rodolphe.  Both are relying on another persons feelings and both will experience a great disappointment.  These ironic similarities could not have been possible if Flaubert began the novel with Emmas point of view.  Charless simple version of idealism was predominant in his youth, thus the reader must follow his early development to become aware of it.  If Flaubert had begun with Emmas point of view, the reader would not be able to get acquainted with the idealistic side of Charles, since by the time he met her, his ideals were slowly starting to get fulfilled.  As well, the narrator would obviously not have been able to use a flashback sequence, since that would have broken the conventions of realism that Flaubert set out for himself. (Sherrington 114-116)

The other irony presented by the author relies entirely on switching the focus of the narration to Charles after Emmas death.  As he is obsessively mourning her passing away, he begins to take on her personality traits: “To please her, as though she was still alive, he adopted her tastes, her ideas: he bought himself patent leather shoes, took to wearing white cravats.  He waxed his mustache, and signed  just as she had  more promisory notes.  She was corrupting him from beyond the grave” (Flaubert 1115).  This passage presents one of the greatest ironies of Madame Bovary: the fact that Charles was probably the easiest man for Emma to change to her liking because he was the only one who loved her unconditionally.  It shows how absolutely blind she was to his devotion, since she looked for her empty ideals elsewhere, while the person who was the most likely to fulfill them was at her side all along.

At the same time, Charless adaptation of Emmas ideals shows his complete blindness to her lies and sets him up for the final pain of seeing through them, which in turn will cause his death.  Charless unawareness of his wifes deceit and her oblivious ignorance of his forthrightness result from their idealistic natures and shows once again the ironic parallels between their personalities. (Sherrington 116)Flauberts fascinating technique of changing the point of view of the narration allows the reader to explore the personalities of the characters in a very intimate way.

The author allows the reader to enter the mind of the characters presented and gives the reader the privilege of seeing the created world through their eyes.  This style makes the form of the novel just as meaningful as its content, since the importance lies not only in what the characters see, but also in how they see it.  By opening and closing the novel with Charles Bovary the reader can explore the provincial world Emma is born into and get a more accurate understanding of her behaviour.  The reader is able to judge Emmas vision of herself and her surroundings in a more objective and accurate way.  This unconventional way of beginning and ending the story is absolutely necessary to convey the authors message accurately, while staying true to the objective goal of French realism.

Works Cited

Flaubert, Gustave.  Madame Bovary.  Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces.  Ed. Maynar Mack et al.  6th ed.  2 vols.  New York: Norton, 1992. 2: 889-1120.Lubbock, P.  The Craft of Fiction.  London: Jonathan Cape, 1961.
Sherrington, R. J.  Three Novels by Flaubert: A Study of Techniques.  Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970.

Madame Bovary: Critical Analysis

The story starts as we see Charles Bovary entering a new school in the town of Rouen in France. People laugh at him because he isn’t sure what to do and how to act. He is the son of a doting mother and a very strict father. Charles isn’t sure what to do with his life and therefore does as his mother advices him; to go to medical school. He fails at first because he didn’t work for it in class, but the second time he does and he passes the exam and becomes a doctor in the town of Tostes. He is well liked in town because people see him as a hard working man. Because he is still single and his mother thinks he shouldn’t be, she arranges a marriage only for the money with an ungly widow, Heloise Dubuc.

One day Charles is called to a farm because someone has broken his leg. On the farm he meets Emma Rouault, the daughter of the farm owner. He likes her very much and keeps coming back to her father to check up on his leg, even after his leg has fully healed. They get on very well and they dicide to get married, even with protest of his former wife which dies soon after because of a stroke. They arrange a huge wedding and loads of people are invited to it. They party on for days and days and there’s food enough for a whole army. Because his practice isn’t where the farmer lives, they return to Tostes.

And this is where are the misery starts for Emma. When Charles is out in the country for house visits, Emma just sits at home doing nothing. All she does is read, watch the rain and she used to play the piano, but quit because she feels that nobody listened to her anyway. She hoped to get the love from her husband in the same way that the main characters in the novels she read get love, but that doesn’t happen. She is bored to death. She is starting to get irritated by Charles’ way of living and the way he behaves sometimes.

One day they go to a party of the maquis and there she meets the life that she wants to live. She doesn’t want Charles to dance because she feels that it would embarras her and instead dances the night away with a Viscount and meets all the rich. When they return back home, she becomes even more miserable because she misses all those things now. Charles notices this and talks with another doctor and together they conclude that a change of scenery might be good for her and they decide to move to Yonville. At the time that they move, Emma discovers that she is pregnant.

In Yonville, life isn’t that much different from the life she’d lived before, but now she meets someone who is interested in the same things as she is; Leon Dupuis, a clerk. Emma is now close to giving birth to a baby and she is hoping that it’s going to be a boy so that he can be strong and free, but her hopes are lost when it turns out that it is a boy; Berthe. As time passes, Emma continues her life and finds out that she is in love with Leon, but they don’t start any relationship. Eventually, Leon moves to Paris to study there and Emma is again left in misery.

Rodolphe meets Emma and she really is attracted to her, but in a sexual way; he thinks that Emma is beautiful. He manages to talk Emma into seducing her and it works. Emma starts to get more and more interested in Rodolphe and they start spending more and more time togeter, for example, they go to the agricultural show together. Emma starts meeting him in secret and he even comes to their house where they make love. Rodolphe decides that to keep the love going, he should leave for a few weeks and that’s what he does. And it seems to work, because after six weeks, Emma can’t wait to see him again.

One day when Emma decides to go back to Rodolphe, she passes passed by Bines, who knew that she had nothing to look for over that side of town because Rodolphe’s house was the last one there he knew that she wasn’t supposed to be there, so she just made a story and she hoped that he would fall for it. Now everytime that Charles and she were somewhere and Binet was around, she would started acting rather strange and Charles definately noticed it. But Charles thought that it was just again related to her so called illness.

Because Charles wants to keep up with the latest ‘technologies’ in these days and because Emma encourages him to, he buys himself a book about how to cure club-foots and finds it really interesting. He has this friend called Hippolyte and he has a club-foot, so he decides to give it a try on him. But it fails miserabely and he fears for his good reputation. Another doctor later has to be called in to amputate Hippolyte’s leg.

Madame Bovary is in real money problems now, and because she can’t take it all any more and because she really loves Rodolphe very much, she wants to run away with him. Rodoplhe isn’t too sure about this and tries to first make her think decently about it and when she says that she’s curtain, he decides to stretch the date that they are planning to leave as much as possible. He runs away from her and decides not to show up as planned, so he writes her a letter explaining why she shouldn’t run away and why he also isn’t going.

So, Rodolphe writes her the letter, which he has great difficulty with. He asks Girard to send it to her together with some fruit, and when she reads the letter, she’s so shocked and saddened that she becomes incredibly ill and almost dies of this. The only thing she can do now is rest.

Slowly she starts feeling better, but she’s still too weak to do anything. Again, as before, they still have the same bills to pay. This is because Emma always had to have the latest of the latest and she never paid on the spot, but she always put it on the bill and that bill was never paid. And now the medicaments also have to be paid for…

Charles thinks that a trip to the theatre would do Emma good, because she’s now strong enough to walk on her own feet. Emma really loves the play and she constantly keeps on imagining that she is the main character and that she just could fly away. When Charles goes out to talk to someone and comes back, he says that Leon is also in the theatre. After the play, they all go out for a drink and they talk about how everything’s going and of course, Emma’s health. Leon mentiones that there’s another performance on in two days. Emma would love to go, but Charles says that he has his work waiting at home and that it’s not possible for him to stay there. Leon makes an offer that Emma can stay over here for two days and stay with him in Rouen. Charles thinks about it and finally agrees to it.

Leon is finally back again with Emma and they talk about their sorrow and sadnesses and share it with eachother. They decide to meet up the next day again at the church. The next day, Leon is there first and he decides to check out the church. When he enters the building, the priest comes up to him and asks him if he wants to have a tour of the building. Charles says no. Later on, Emma shows up and again the priest comes up to her with the same question. Leon says no again, but Emma says that she would love to. He gets really annoyed with the damn tour and calls a cab and takes Emma with him.

Many hours later, they stop in Beauvoisine district and Emma steps out and enters the inn. Once in the inn, she get the word that she has to go to Monsieur Homais as soon as possible. So she goes there and they tell her that Charles’ father has suddenly died. What has to be done now, is that all of the will has to sorted out. They need a good lawyer, but not an expensive one and so they decide to call upon Leon. He offers to go, but she says that it would be better that he keeps on eye on the business and that she’d rather go on her own. So she leaves for Rouen for three days.

She of course has the time of her life in Rouen with Leon and they live their lives in Hotel de Boulonge.

Emma still thinks that she doesn’t see Leon often enough and so decidedes to take up the piano and will now (or at least she says) take private lessons in Rouen.

She visits Leon more often, and when they part again for the week, she’s already longing for the next Thursday that they will meet again.

One day a man comes to their house and he gives her a letter from Monsieur Vincart of Rouen with a bill of 700 francs. She said that she would pay it next week. The next day she gets another letter from Maitre Haring saying that she has to come to Monsieur Lheureux to pay all of the bills that she never paid for. He wants the money now, but of course she doesn’t have it. She was given a piece of paper that said that she had to pay the money (8000 francs) within 24 hours otherwise all of her belongings would be sold until the sum reached.

Of course, she wasn’t able to pay all of this an the next day, when Charles went out, gentlemen came in and took notes of all the things in her house. She didn’t want this to happen, so she went out to Maitre Guillaum. He was quite friendly and was willing to pay the money as long as he could have her as a prostitute. She didn’t want this and quickly ran out. Now the only one that was left was Rodolphe. She came into his nice house with loads of expensive stuff and when she asked for the money, he said that he didn’t have it. She was so incredibly angry, that she just took something, threw it away, ran out of the house all the way to the pharmacist’s shop, stuck her hand in a pot of blue stuff and swallowed it. Charles had no clue where the hell she was hanging out and went looking for her. He couldn’t find her and when he came back home, there she was laying on her own. She wanted to be left alone to let the poison work in slowly. And it did. She started feeling really sick, throwing up like a maniac and getting weaker and weaker. Charles called all of the best doctors and even he himself could do nothing. After a few hours, he passed away.

They finally prepare for the funeral. She got burried and Charles’ sadness was unmeaserable. People started ignoring him at all costs, he had no friends left. One day, Berthe wanted to play with him, she gave him a friendly push and he fell to the ground; he was dead.

Plot Overview

Madame Bovary begins when Charles Bovary is a young boy, unable to fit in at his new school and ridiculed by his new classmates. As a child, and later when he grows into a young man, Charles is mediocre and dull. He fails his first medical exam and only barely manages to become a second- rate country doctor. His mother marries him off to a widow who dies soon afterward, leaving Charles much less money than he expected.

Charles soon falls in love with Emma, the daughter of a patient, and the two decide to marry. After an elaborate wedding, they set up house in Tostes, where Charles has his practice. But marriage doesn’t live up to Emma’s romantic expectations. Ever since she lived in a convent as a young girl, she has dreamed of love and marriage as a solution to all her problems. After she attends an extravagant ball at the home of a wealthy nobleman, she begins to dream constantly of a more sophisticated life. She grows bored and depressed when she compares her fantasies to the humdrum reality of village life, and eventually her listlessness makes her ill. When Emma becomes pregnant, Charles decides to move to a different town in hopes of reviving her health.

In the new town of Yonville, the Bovarys meet Homais, the town pharmacist, a pompous windbag who loves to hear himself speak. Emma also meets Leon, a law clerk, who, like her, is bored with rural life and loves to escape through books. When Emma gives birth to her daughter Berthe, motherhood disappoints her, and she continues to be despondent. Romantic feelings blossom between Emma and Leon. However, when Emma realizes that Leon loves her, she feels guilty and throws herself into the role of a dutiful wife. Leon grows tired of waiting and, believing that he can never possess Emma, departs to study law in Paris. His departure makes Emma miserable.

Soon, at an agricultural fair, a wealthy neighbor named Rodolphe, who is attracted by Emma’s beauty, declares his love to her. He seduces her, and they begin having a passionate affair. Emma is often indiscreet, and the townspeople all gossip about her. Charles, however, suspects nothing. His adoration for his wife and his stupidity combine to blind him to her indiscretions. His professional life, meanwhile, takes a severe blow when he and Homais attempt an experimental technique to treat a club-footed man named Hippolyte and end up having to call in another doctor to amputate the leg. Disgusted with her husband’s incompetence, Emma throws herself even more passionately into her affair with Rodolphe. She borrows money to buy him gifts and suggests that they run off together and take little Berthe with them. However, Rodolphe has grown bored of Emma’s demanding affections. Not wanting to elope with her, he leaves her. Heartbroken, Emma grows desperately ill and nearly dies.

By the time Emma recovers, Charles is in financial trouble from having to borrow money to pay off Emma’s debts and to pay for her treatment. Still, he decides to take Emma to the opera in the nearby city of Rouen. There, they run into Leon. This meeting rekindles the old romance between Emma and Leon, and this time the two embark on a love affair. As Emma continues sneaking off to Rouen to meet Leon, she also grows deeper and deeper in debt with the moneylender Lheureux, who lends her more and more money at exaggerated interest rates. She grows increasingly careless in conducting her affair with Leon. As a result, on several occasions, her acquaintances nearly discover her infidelity.

Over time, Emma grows bored with Leon. Not knowing how to abandon him, she instead becomes more and more demanding. Meanwhile, her debts mount daily. Eventually, Lheureux orders the seizure of Emma’s property to compensate for the debt she has accumulated. Terrified of Charles finding out, she frantically tries to raise the money that she needs, appealing to Leon and to all the town’s businessmen. Eventually, she even attempts to prostitute herself by offering to get back together with Rodolphe if he will give her the money he needs. He refuses, and, driven to despair, she commits suicide by eating arsenic. She dies in horrible agony.

For a while, Charles idealizes the memory of his wife. Eventually, though, he finds her letters from Rodolphe and Leon, and he is forced to confront the truth. He dies alone in his garden, and Berthe is sent off to work in a cotton mill.

Analysis of Major Characters

In Emma Bovary, Flaubert uses irony to criticize romanticism and to investigate the relation of beauty to corruption and of fate to free will. Emma embarks directly down a path to moral and financial ruin over the course of the novel. She is very beautiful, as we can tell by the way several men fall in love with her, but she is morally corrupt and unable to accept and appreciate the realities of her life. Since her girlhood in a convent, she has read romantic novels that feed her discontent with her ordinary life.

She dreams of the purest, most impossible forms of love and wealth, ignoring whatever beauty is present in the world around her. Flaubert once said, “Madame Bovary is me,” and many scholars believe that he was referring to a weakness he shared with his character for romance, sentimental flights of fancy, and melancholy. Flaubert, however, approaches romanticism with self-conscious irony, pointing out its flaws even as he is tempted by it. Emma, on the other hand, never recognizes that her desires are unreasonable. She rails emotionally against the society that, from her perspective, makes them impossible for her to achieve.

Emma’s failure is not completely her own. Her character demonstrates the many ways in which circumstance rather than free will determined the position of women in the nineteenth century. If Emma were as rich as her lover, Rodolphe, for instance, she would be free to indulge the lifestyle she imagines. Flaubert suggests at times that her dissatisfaction with the bourgeois society she lives in is justified. For example, the author includes details that seem to ridicule Homais’s pompous speechmaking or Charles’s boorish table manners.

These details indicate that Emma’s plight is emblematic of the difficulties of any sensitive person trapped among the French bourgeoisie. But Emma’s inability to accept her situation and her attempt to escape it through adultery and deception constitute moral errors. These mistakes bring about her ruin and, in the process, cause harm to innocent people around her. For example, though dim-witted and unable to recognize his wife’s true character, Charles loves Emma, and she deceives him. Similarly, little Berthe is but an innocent child in need of her mother’s care and love, but Emma is cold to her, and Berthe ends up working in a cotton mill because of Emma’s selfish spending and suicide, and because of Charles’s resulting death.

We can see that Emma’s role as a woman may have an even greater effect on the course of her life than her social status does. Emma frequently is portrayed as the object of a man’s gaze: her husband’s, Rodolphe’s, Leon’s, Justin’s-even Flaubert’s, since the whole novel is essentially a description of how he sees Emma. Moreover, Emma’s only power over the men in her life is sexual. Near the end of her life, when she searches desperately for money, she has to ask men for it, and the only thing she can use to persuade them to give it to her is sex. Emma’s prostitution is the result of her self-destructive spending, but the fact that, as a woman, she has no other means of finding money is a result of the misogynistic society in which she lives.

In the novel, Madame Bovary, Charles represents both the society and the personal characteristics that Emma passionately despised. He was somewhat incompetent, lacked intellegence and imagination, specifically when it came to romance and intimacy. In one of the novel’s most revealing moments, Charles looked into Emma’s eyes, as she hoped he invisioned her inner soul, he murmers something about seeing his reflection in her retina. Charles’s perception of his own reflection is not conceit but merely an immediate response that excludes any romantic connotation.

That moment established his inability to combine love and romance. Instead, he viewed life literally and never instilled what he saw with romantic inference. Instead, its the physical aspects of Emma that delighted Charles. Narrative focus on his point of view allowed us to visualize most every detail of her dress, skin, and hair. But when its came to her aspirations and depressions, Charles was unable to comprehend. It appeared that he was physically repulsive or actually hideous looking thru Emma’s eyes.

Charles is the most moral and sincere characters. He truly loves Emma as he forgives her even when he finally recognizes her infidelities. He does everything he can to save her when she is ill, and he gives her the benefit of the doubt whenever her lies seem to fail her. Literal-minded, humble, free of temptations, and without aspirations. As the story goes, opposites attract. Emma and Charles cannot be more opposed. While Charles was sincere, moral, humble and loyal man, Emma was a lying, cheating woman that holds very little guilt for what she has done.

Although, there were episodes where, out of guilt, she exhibited love and caring for Berthe, her daughter and Charles, it was short lived and she quickly reverted to her life of deception. Emma’s downfall was that she allowed herself to be a victim of circumstance. In Rodolphe’s letter to Emma breaking off the affair, he claims that “fate is to blame;” Later when Charles meets Rodolphe after Emma’s death, he, too, rationalizes that “fate willed it this way.” In a sense, they are right. Fate or chance, or more precisely matters of social and economic class, certainly do play a role.

After all, it is not a function of Emma’s will that she was born into a middle-class family; nor is it her fault that her lovers abandon her. It is even possible that her romantic, idealistic nature is a result of fate, and that Emma can’t control her actions because she can’t control her own identity or her natural inclinations. But there are two other factors that contribute to Emma’s downfall. The first is Emma herself-an agent making her own decisions. Emma chooses to marry Charles, she chooses to take lovers, and she chooses to borrow money from Lheureux.

She also chooses to commit suicide, proving in a final act that she has power-if only a negative destructive power-over her own life. The second factor that contributes to Emma’s downfall is the men around her. Charles contributes to Emma’s Downfall as his inability to satisfy her creates a real trap for Emma in combination with Rodolphe’s jaded heartlessness and Lheureux’s greedy scheming. Although she makes her own choices, these men severely limit the options she has at her disposal. Charles and Rodolphe’s claim that fate is to blame is too easy an excuse, both for Emma and for themselves.

Charles was sympathetic in his own way. Although, sticking with Emma thru thick and thin, until her death, he didn’t have the comprehension of what Emma truly needed. Although they communicated verbally, they didn’t communicate well intimately. If Charles could have tapped into his inner person, maybe things would have been different between him and Emma.

The Tragedy of Emma Bovary

“I’ve never been so happy!” Emma squealed as she stood before the mirror. ” Let’s go out on the town. I want to see Chorus and the Guggenhiem and this Jack Nicholson character you are always talking about.” Emma Bovary in Woody Allen’s The Kugelmass Episode.

As I sit here pondering the life of Emma Bovary I wonder what it must have really been like for her. She was young, younger than I am now when she died. She was curious and bright and probably would have been a great college student; passionate but with her head a little bit in the clouds. Opportunities for women in the 1850’s were, as we all know, extremely limited. I wonder if I would have fared much better than Emma if I had been as trapped as her.

I also married young, but when I realized it had been a mistake I had the option of a divorce, Emma did not. I have had the opportunity to receive a good education and to choose for myself what path my life would take. I feel very sorry for Emma. Having never been given the opportunity to discover her true self or to develop her dreams and hopes for her future, all she had to base her aspirations on were trashy romance novels. I cannot imagine what my life would be like if all of my teenage curiosity had been forced to be satisfied by nothing but Danielle Steel romance novels.

Emma strove to better herself and her situation. She wanted to reach the upper echelon of society; she wanted what we in this country refer to as the “american dream.” She wanted more than her parents had. Emma wanted to feel great love and own nice things and live in a wonderful city. These are not things that are alien to most of us. Although it may be amusing to read Woody Allen’s take on what Emma Bovary might be like if she went to modern day New York, it must also be realized that he is not completely mistaken in his ideas of her character. In a very humorous manner, Woody Allen is able to sum up Emma’s lust for life and her desire to experience and learn new things; to actually go out and live.

Perhaps a trip such as the one described in Mr. Allen’s short story would have been the thing to save Emma Bovary, although I doubt she would have ever wanted to go back to Yonville as she does in Allen’s story. Emma Bovary is an unhappy, unfulfilled woman. Emma’s tragedy is that she cannot escape her own immanence. ‘Everything including herself was unbearable to her,’ But just as her walks always lead back to the detested house, so Emma feels thrown back into herself, left stranded on her own shore (Brombert 22). She constantly strives for experience and passion, but is continually restrained by a society that did not tolerate the growth, education, and mature development of women.

Emma was fortunate to have had any education at all in her day. Brought up in convent of the Ursuline order, she had received, as they say, a good education, “as a result,she knew dancing, geography, drawing, tapestry weaving, and piano playing (Flaubert 40). These are not exactly mind expanding subjects except perhaps for the geography (no offence meant toward piano players and tapestry weavers). Unfortunately, as we discover in Emma’s case, a little education can be a dangerous thing. Once someone begins to learn they want to continue their education, so it was with Emma.

She supplemented the education of the good sisters with one of her own, the dreaded romance novels. Emma’s world has suddenly been opened to new possibilities. She now knows that there is more to life than being a nun or a farmer’s wife. Now she had learned that there could be more, there could be passion and excitement. Emma sought to learn what was really meant in life by the words “happiness,” “passion,” and “intoxication,” “words that had seemed so beautiful to her in books (Flaubert 55). Taking her jump from the romantic novels she read, Emma now strove to emulate the lives of these people who had, seemingly to her, a perfect existence or at the very least an exciting one.

This was the only avenue of excitement that had been presented to Emma, so understandably this is what she chose to pursue in life. Emma does not begin her affairs because she was a nymphomaniac, but because she was looking for excitement, she wanted to really “live” life. Emma marries Charles because she wants to get off the farm. Her father also wants to get her married off. Monsieur Roualt considered Emma to be of little help around the farm. Inwardly he forgave her, feeling that she was too intelligent for farming (Flaubert 45).

Fortunately for women today if their father feels that they are too intelligent for farming, that life in the country does not suit them, they can send their daughters to college or let them move to the city and find work. For Emma there was marriage to Charles, who unfortunately for both Emma and himself, was nothing like the romantic heros she had read and fantasized about. Love seems impossible to Emma unless it appears with all the conventional signs which constitute a romantic code of love in fictions of romance (Bersani 33). Emma never realizes the depth of Charles’ love for her. Because he does not use the flowery speech of her romance novels or constantly pledge his undying love, Emma does not feel the “fireworks” that she has been reading about all these years.

It is no wonder that Emma falls for Rudolphe’s lines so easily. When Rudolphe says, “In my soul you are a Madonna on a pedestal, exalted, secure, and immaculate (Flaubert 161), Emma falls hook, line, and sinker. If Rudolphe were here in 1995 he would probably be using cheesy lines on some silly drunk girl in a bar. It is truly shameful that a grown woman was so sheltered from life that she did not know the difference between a pickup line and real love. The truly frightening thought occurs to me that there were thousands of “Emma’s” in the 1850’s; women who through oppression were forced to live out their lives never knowing who they really were or what was truth and what was false.

Emma does not have the knowledge to truly be held accountable for many of her actions. Freedom and responsibility are intertwined, you cannot have one without the other. As Emma was given virtually no freedom, it is impossible to force her to claim responsibility for the mess she creates. With almost no practical education or life experience or any decent advice it is actually a salute to Emma’s intelligence that she is able to juggle her financial problems as long as she does. Eventually, when everything comes to a head, she is forced to confront the mess she is in, both emotionally and financially. She learns that romantic ecstasy doesn’t last (Bersani 35). She is now “learning the hard way” and with no true friends to comfort or console her she is overwhelmed. Emma’s lust, her longing for money and her sentimental aspirations all become ‘confused’ in one single vague and oppressive sense of suffering.

Emma commits suicide not because of the money or Leon or Rudolphe. She kills herself because she realizes that she will never really understand life. She despairs because she is in a mess when she believes that she has done everything as she should. Emma’s hope for a baby boy sums up the female experience in 1850’s France. She hoped for a son. A man, at least, is free. He can explore passions and countries, surmount obstacles, taste the most exotic pleasures. But a woman is continually held back (Flaubert 101).

Works Cited:

Allen, Woody. Side Effects. New York: Random House, 1975.

Bersani, Leo. “Flaubert and Emma Bovary: The Hazards of Literary Fusion.” **Modern Critical Interpretations: Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

Brombert, Victor. “The Tragedy of Dreams.” **Modern Critical Interpretations: Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Ed. Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

Flaubert, Gustave. **Madame Bovary. New York: Signet Classic, 1964.