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.

Like Water For Chocolate: Book Review

There are all sorts of novels, English, American, Mexican, ect…, but they all have something that distinguish them from the rest. Mexican novelist tend to write about magic and love. In Laura Esquirel novel Like Water For Chocolate magic is in many peoples opinion a big part of the theme. Tita the main character of the novel, and she unknowing uses her cooking as magic, the magic used effects almost everyone who eats Titas food.

Like Water For Chocolate is a novel that uses magic in ways that will effect almost everyone around the wizard that products the magic in a good or bad way. Tita first love was Pedro, they meet at a party thrown by the De la Garza family which Tita was sadly part of. The De la Garza tradition was that the youngest daughter had to stay in the house of her mother and take care of her till the day the mother died, which means that the daughter could not get married.

Unfortunately for Tita she was the youngest and her mother was health as a flying bird. Pedro was madly in love with Tita, and Tita with Pedro, he wanted to take her had in marriage, but in order to do this he has to ask her mother, Mama Elena, since her farther is dead. Going by tradition Mama Elena said no, but she did then ask him if he wants Rousara Tita sister instead. Thinking that by marriage Titas Tita had to be part of the wedding if she liked it or not, according to Mama Elena.

While Tita and Nacha where preparing the batter for the cake Tita told her mother that it would be best if she didnt attend the wedding. Mama Elena then told her that she was and that she could not cry at the wedding. After her mother left Tita began to cry above the batter, and tears fell into the cake batter. It was after the wedding at the basic wedding party, Nacha brought out the cake.

Everyone got a piece, after the first bites looks of sickness were produced on everyones once happy face. They all got sick and ran to the river side and threw up, making Rosauras wedding like deserter island. Although the author doesnt say it was because of Titas tears, but we can say that it was because at that time Tita was angry at Pedro for marry Rosaura, and she was jealous of Rosaura because she was allowed to marry Pedro. So because of the way Tita felt people got Magic is use not only as a way to hurt someone but also to make them feel good.

A few weeks after the wedding Pedro tried to do what ever he could do to make Tita feel his love. One day Pedro had an idea of bring Tita a bouquet of roses, and his excuse was to celebrate her first year as ranch cook. Rosaura pregnant at the time though she should get the rose and angry ran out of the room. Mama Elena with just a look sent Tita to get rid of the roses. Tita thinking they were to beautiful to throw away but then Tita heard Nachas voice, Nacha is dead at this time, telling her a recipe involving rose petals.

After the meal was cooked Gertrudis, Tita, Rosaura, Pedro, and Mama Elena sat down to eat. Pedro was the first to complement Tita for the delicious meal which made him horny for love, then Gertudis became horny. Rosaura on the other hand was feeling sick and getting nauseous, and then asked to be excused. Then Gertudis ran out to the out house and began to get naked, she began to sweat and smell like roses. Gertudis began to run, naked she was, ran out to a man on a horse named Juan who she later married and had children with also.

Even though Rosaura got sick, the whole town smelled like roses from Gertudis sweat, meaning that the magic does not only cause bad things to happen but also good as well. About twenty years have passed after Rosaura death, she had a bad digestive problems, Esperanza her daughter got to marry her true love Alex Brown Dr. John Browns son. At the wedding Tita was preparing Chiles in Walnut Sauce, no one could keep their hand off them. Everyone including the priest were thirsty for love after dancing and eating some Chiles in Walnut Sauce.

Some were smart and got into there cars a made love but others were unlucky and had to make love behind a bush. Tita and Pedro felt like they could finely make love freely, trying to hold there sexual desire only made them more horny, they ran into the dark room. There was Nacha lighting the last of the 250 candles that lit up the dark room. After make sweet love Pedro dead, but Tita still alive wanted to be with her love and began to eat the candles and thinking of the happiest moments in her life and then she also died.

Seeing that the magic made everyone want love it is appropriate to say that at this time magic is a good thing. In conclusion magic can be used in a good and bad way. For example the meal made with the rose pedals made Rosaura sick but it also made the town smell good and helped Gertrudis meet the love of her life. Also that magic effects every one around the wizard or magician or even the cook. We see this with the cake batter, rose pedals, and walnut sauce.