The Societal Subjugation in Madame Bovary and Middlemarch
Abuse of characters is by and large filled by external causes. On account of Madame Bovary and Middlemarch, outside causes like sex norms result in the oppression of our female counterparts. In Madame Bovary, society’s desires of a wifely figure limits Emma’s want to climb the social stepping stool. In Middlemarch, the authoritative opinions about female scholarly capacities engendered by characters like Lydgate and Casaubon block Dorothea’s capacity to end up noticeably a scholar inside society. Faultfinder Howard Kushner composes that ‘ philosophy… highlighted females as mothers and guardians of the family’ (Howard 5). This quote draws the strictures of what a lady was required to be in the Victorian time, unmistakably accentuating the confinements set up for womenkind. Investigating the characters in Madame Bovary and Middlemarch offers knowledge into female persecution in Victorian culture.
Madame Bovary offers a blistering prosecution of the oppression of females in the nineteenth century. Emma Bovary’s existence is utilized illustrating a sample on how women’s existence is outlined and directed toward the men encompassing them. Emma is exhibited similarly as a normal lady for dreams about adoration and extravagance to her heart. These dreams were never satisfied because of her early marriage, dictated by her father, and her white-collar class lifestyle, imposed by her husband. Her dreams would be trapped between the wills of the two men over her life. Furthermore, despite she tries, in her own way, to break free from them. She doesn’t find satisfaction in her life, prompting her consequent despondency and later destruction.
It is imperative to take note of the title of the novel, Madame Bovary. The title is dissociative, shadowing the character in an absence of personality. From the title, the reader can gather a certain something: that the woman is hitched to a man named Bovary. We are not conscious of her initial name, featuring its unimportance when contrasted with her wedded name. The inserted message is that her marriage to Bovary speaks to her character. She is relied upon by society to act in a specific way that befits her station of spouse and mother, thus losing the individual personality she had. In spite of the way that the novel is about her, her personality by means of marriage is of essential significance and her actual is persuasively expelled from the title. The absence of individual personality mirrors the male-centric perfect of a woman exclusively as a spouse and mother in the nineteenth century. All things considered, the title itself is the principal example of persecution in Madame Bovary.
It is moreover vital that in spite of having a novel entitled Madame Bovary, the plot starts with an in-depth look at Charles Bovary’s backstory. In her own are, Emma comes second to the man in her life. This story outline (introduced by a man) serves to foretell the importance of male control in Emma’s future connections with men. The account outline is as well Flaubert’s way of emphasizing the auxiliary importance of females as contradicted to the essential noteworthiness of men in Victorian society. She is characterized by the men in her life. In addition, the fact that she is presented after Charles’ backstory and dies sometime before the conclusion of the story per se, gives her life a claustrophobic, quelled vibe – a feeling that she was caught inside the pages, adding to the thought of abuse in Victorian society.
Emma is exhibited as sentimental and a visionary whose aspirations are mistreated by her significant other’s social standing. She longs for enormous urban communities like Paris and of showy gatherings and sentiments in her future. Her marriage to Charles was in regard to her fantasies at first as they had a romantic time toward the beginning of their marriage. Before long, nonetheless, she started longing for additional in the wake of going to a terrific gathering at La Vaubyessard. She endeavors to enrich her home in a way befitting somebody at a higher station than herself. She purchases costly garments suitable for huge city parties with the goal for her to look rich. This longing for more could be inspected as an exceptionally sentimental want for singular satisfaction, fueled by her reading of books and magazines when she was more youthful. Daydreams can be identified with kids’ play, in which the toys and questions they mastermind are, like ‘castles in the air’, images of what they want in their lives. Be that as it may, Emma’s ‘castle’ is out of her compass because of her funds and her marriage. Her fantasies end up noticeably unattainable in light of the fact that society does not enable her to progress past the monetary capacities of her significant other. As somebody from a staunchly white-collar class foundation, the world she longs for is out of reach to her. She censures her significant other for being deficient on the grounds that he doesn’t have the want or intends to enhance their social standing. Emma regrets: ‘she would have liked this name of Bovary, the name that was hers, to be famous, to see it displayed in the book-shops, quoted in the newspapers, known all over France. But Charles hadn’t an ounce of ambition’ (Flaubert 57). On account of her sex, Emma does not be able to climb the social and money related stepping stool individually, and her significant other (the man her identity reliant on) does not have the desire to help her, subsequently bringing about mistreatment she had never fathomed.
The persecution of Emma’s dreams is obviously depicted by the foil character of Leon. Leon and Emma are fundamentally the same as – they both have sentimental thoughts of moving to the huge city and climbing the social stepping stool. They talk about their common dreams finally amid their issue. Be that as it may, in view of his sexual orientation, Leon can move unreservedly to the city and seek after what he cherishes. Emma, then again, stays fastened to the wide open in view of her family. Her better half and tyke keep her attached to a place that she detests, causing a depressive cycle that in the long run closes in death. The straightforward truth is that on account of their distinction in sexual orientations, Leon can better himself and his economic well-being while Emma is kept down. She mourns the weakness of her sex: ‘A man, at least, is free; he can explore each passion and every kingdom, conquer obstacles, feast upon the most exotic pleasures. But a woman is continually dissatisfied. Always there is desire urging, always the convention restraining’ (Flaubert 82) This character contrast underlines the parallel between the two characters and summons an intense feeling of pity and sensitivity for Emma’s character. By contrasting Leon’s movement in existence with Emma’s scarcity in that department, the infertility of her life is lit up, demonstrating how societal desires of a spouse and mother have held her once more from accomplishing what she desires.
Madame Bovary unmistakably communicates the onerous power of Victorian sex standards. It is hard for readers to comprehend why Emma does not indicate warmth to her daughter, but rather we need to understand that the child is an impression of her frustrating and miserable circumstance. Since her husband only disappoints her, the best way to promote herself in the public eye was to have a male kid who might have the capacity to do all that she proved unable. To put it plainly, she needed to receive the rewards that a kid could convey to the family’s social standing. In spite of the fact that this does not pardon her absence of affection for her little girl, it shows the toll that society’s mistreatment assumes Emma’s personality. She has turned into a casualty of society that honors the male sex over that of a female. Flaubert utilizes free indirect dialogue to indicate how Emma is controlled by the men throughout her life. By inserting Charles’ discourse or contemplations into a general third-person account, Flaubert draws out the shallowness of his fascination in Emma. When he initially experiences Emma, his depiction of her physical appearance is extremely point by point, yet nothing he says mirrors his comprehension of her character. Charles was astonished at the whiteness of her nails. They were sparkling, fragile at the tips, more cleaned than the ivory of Dieppe, and almond-cut. However, her hand was not lovely, maybe not sufficiently white, and somewhat hard at the knuckles; additionally, it was too long, with no delicate articulations in the layouts. (Flaubert 25) In almost any instance where Emma uncovers something of her actual character, he’d rather concentrate on her physical appearances.
His fascination or love for her is depicted as shallow. He tends to what she says and a considerable measure for what she resembles. Her dad, in like manner, treats her like a speculation. He puts the prosperity of his homestead in front of the prosperity of his daughter. When he chooses to wed her off to Charles, Emma has nothing to do with the issue. She’s pushed around from one man to the next, expelling any feeling of individuality she may have had. Her character progress is a daughter to a spouse, never an individual. In spite of the fact that an extremely basic process in the Victorian period, men’s ‘ownership’ over ladies is out rightly evident. Women like Emma were made to persevere through a miserable marriage with a man of her dad’s picking – another path in which Victorian culture controlled and mistreated females.
In her prelude, Eliot expresses that her motivation for composing Middlemarch is to enhance society, only a bit, by demonstrating that a female can beat gender predisposition and exceed expectations at science as well as any man. She had confidence in a sexually impartial science and attested that ‘assumptions’ must be put aside to discover ‘genuine scientific outcomes’. Eliot’s novel is a challenging test of Victorian social standards and a guess of what logical improvement could resemble if the assumptions about women and science were put aside. She boldly attested that science is ‘gender blind’ (Rosemary 1994) and thusly, tested the mistreatment of female intelligence in the world.Casaubon is exhibited as a more seasoned man whose perspectives about men and ladies are strongly male-centric. He attests that ‘a man of good position should expect and carefully choose a blooming young lady — the younger the better, because the more educable and submissive,” and “he should receive family pleasures and leave behind him that copy of himself which seemed so urgently required of a man”. (Eliot 278) Casaubon’s thought processes are clarified in that announcement; he requires a spouse to better his own life, much like somebody would obtain ownership. He is portrayed as self-serving; however, it is hard to blame him for following the traditions of his chance. Victorian culture was organized in a male-centric and phallocentric way and gender standards fueled the regular idea that ladies were mediocre compared to men. Subsequently, many like Dorothea (and Emma Bovary, truth be told) were dealt with like belongings by their fathers and spouses.
Victorian researcher Alexander Walker set forth the hypothesis that ladies were unequipped for thinking and framing associated thoughts, making them rationally frail when contrasted with men. This ties in with Casaubon’s ‘motivation’ for Dorothea. He needs her companionship not for her brains but rather for her physical versatility. Casaubon is an older man whose vision is failing him. After meeting her, he reveals to her that he needs somebody to read for him in the nighttime’s and for reproduction, subsequently drawing the parameters of her value in his life. He thinks about her in a secretarial part, somebody to ‘extract them(notes) under my direction’ (Eliot 199) than taking part in any educated discourse. Casaubon’s impediment of Dorothea smothers her chance to demonstrate her insightfulness. Theories like Walker’s assumed a substantial part in impacting and proliferating the biases of the male-centric Victorian culture, particularly since the partialities were sponsored by logical speculations. Generally, logical speculations were utilized as another type of abuse of ladies. Lydgate’s gender biases are additionally demonstrative of a bigger societal issue of female abuse. His biased perspectives are reflected by different characters in the novel like Casaubon and Chettenham. Lydgate states that he discovers Dorothea not fitting marriage material since she doesn’t ‘take a gander at things from the proper feminine angle’ (Eliot 95). He values females who talk pretty much nothing and includes that he finds emotionlessness enchanting. I feel that he acknowledges a woman whose numbness or absence of intellect influences him to look savvy and imperative from her perspective, thus boosting his manly sense of self. All things considered, Lydgate utilized his extremist measuring stick to place Dorothea in the ‘unmarriageable’ classification – basically speaking to societal biases of intellectual women by men.
A likeness can be found between Emma Bovary’s character and Rosamond’s character. Rosamond’s enthusiasm for wedding Lydgate comes from her need to climb the social stepping stool. She’s portrayed as glad for her husband’s high associations and scientific discoveries– both which could help her climb the social stepping stool. She likewise states: ‘it seemed desirable that Lydgate should by-and-by get some first-rate position elsewhere than in Middlemarch’ (Eliot 356) however Rosamond herself was conceived in the little town. Similarly, Emma Bovary’s primary want was to utilize her better half’s occupation to move to a higher social class, on the grounds that as a lady, there was next to nothing she could do to enhance her social remaining alone. Both Emma and Rosamond are characters caught in a world directed by men. The characters, as people, have next to zero social portability and always require the assistance of a man to advance in the public eye, causing much disappointment and absence of satisfaction in their lives. Basically, the two ladies are casualties of their conditions and Victorian gender standards. Society’s harsh thought that ladies ought to be submissive to the men in their lives implies that any achievement ladies obtain would be through their spouses or fathers. These Victorian beliefs make ladies victims of societal mistreatment.
It is fascinating to take note of that when Lydgate’s marriage goes to pieces, he swings to Dorothea for advice. Thusly, Lydgate for the first time in his life concedes that his astuteness isn’t adequate to take care of the issue in front of him. Rather, he approaches the intellectual ability of Dorothea for assistance. This speaks to a little advance to yield that ladies may hold the appropriate responses some of the time and are not just unequipped for thinking, as Walker puts it. Lydgate speaks to a little beam of expectation in turning around the male misconception and harmful stereotypes of women. Utilizing social standards to carry on with an existence of individual significance is a technique that Dorothea uses to defeat societal persecution. The societal tradition of marriage is a lady’s chance to affirm herself in the public eye. Dorothea utilizes this chance to pick a spouse who might not prevent her wants from securing being a scholarly person. Her marriage to Ladislaw can be viewed as her desire to settle on her own choices, in spite of the objection to her family and society. As indicated by Joseph Nicholes, Dorothea’s selection of spouses is an endeavor to fight the ‘dreary uselessness of a ‘gentlewoman’s oppressive liberty’. Her smarts of utilizing society’s own abusive principles to discover individual satisfaction are admirable and maybe speaks to a little advance towards dodging the societal persecution of women.Victorian sex norms were inserted profoundly in the ordinary workings of society and it was close to unimaginable for somebody to break free from them, particularly somebody from the sex, for the most part, saw to be weaker. Despite the fact that Dorothea’s mind and Lydgate’s renewal speak to a little beam of expectation, sex standards and preferences are exhibited as too profoundly instilled in the public eye for any of these characters to have a huge effect.
- Eliot, George. Middlemarch. BiblioBazaar, 2007. Print
- Flaubert, Gustave, et al. Madame Bovary. W.W. Norton, 2005. Print
- Gartner, Rosemary. The Oxford Handbook of Gender, Sex, and Crime. Oxford University Press, 2014.
- Kushner, Howard. Weaver, John, and David Wright. Histories of Suicide: International Perspectives on Self-Destruction in the Modern World. University of Toronto Press, 2009.
The Character of Emma Bovary
At a time where the French society repressed female thought and relegated women’s roles to household chores, Gustave Flaubert crafted his fortuitous masterpiece. Although he scorned the likes of realism, Flaubert crafted his work based on the popular desire for a bourgeoisie lifestyle and the heightining discontent among the working class in 18th century France. Of course, his strained personal relationships, especially with his female relatives, influenced his work as well and provided inspiration for Emma Bovary, the central character of Madame Bovary. The rifts between 19th century French social classes are exemplified through Emma Bovary’s psychological dissonance; social immobility and the repression of romantic ideals lead to Emma’s downfall and highlight Flaubert’s inner turmoil.
Gustave Flaubert’s pride as an writer and natural inclination to lyricism stemmed from his youth. He was fascinated with stories of frustrated women with high aspirations or those who dealt with inner turmoil. It is possible that Madame Bovary was based on his fellow writer Ducamp’s fictional provincial story told over one dinner party, or it may be an autobiography of Louise Pradier, an acquaintance of Flaubert who reflected the mannerisms of Emma Bovary (Gale). Furthermore, 17th century France greatly influenced Flaubert as well; many literary critics of the time dissuaded writing in the romanticism genre. In retaliation to these critics, who believed that his writing was overtly “lyrical”, Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary. However, though many contemporary literary reviews deem it so, Flaubert never accepted Madame Bovary as a work of realism (Taylor). Despite critics immediately recognizing the work as significant, the French government censored its publication, citing “blasphemy and offending public morals”. Ultimately, Flaubert and Madame Bovary attained a certain notoriety in France and Flaubert grew to resent his work. During this period, the French political and social climate also influenced Flaubert’s writing. The class struggle and French Revolution of 1848 overthrew the “Bourgeois Monarch” Louis Philippe around this period and Karl Marx emerged as a leader in analyzing the growing discontent. The revolution was directed by the petty bourgeoisie, or small business owners, who outnumbered the working class, and common complaints were for food shortages, bad harvest, and a lack of representation in the government (Marx). This discontent parallels with Emma’s own, where she struggles to find meaning in being “poor”. Her dreams of paradise drowned in sentimentalism and opulence hinder her ability to live life with practicality. The endless want and desire from her unfulfilled ambitions prove to be a linchpin for her downfall. However, though Emma unwise judgement plays a large part in her demise, societal influences provide a basis for her unhappiness.
Emma’s daily oppression due to her status as a woman is highlighted by Flaubert’s choice of perspective and his use of free indirect speech, bland descriptions of the countryside, and lack of dialogue. Her voice is a product of her interiority; she is not heard by those around her. The ideal 17th century upper-class woman subscribed to fashion magazines, organized large parties, and lived with a wealthy aristocrat who, preferably, was well-versed in dance, music, and riding. As a wife, Emma is unsatisfied with her mediocre marriage with Charles and takes upon housewife duties only to impress her neighbors and illicit romantic interests. She yearns for the freedom and mobility to live in Paris; the only way to attain her goal is to deceive Charles. As a mother, she cares little for her child until she throws herself into a motherly role for show and self-pity, rather than for truly loving her daughter. She values little of her gender and wishes for a son rather than a daughter, hoping that the idea of having a male child would be “a sort of hoped-for compensation for all her past helplessness.” She believes that a man can “explore every passion, every land, overcome obstacles, [and] taste the most distant pleasures,” but a woman is “continually thwarted.” (Madame Bovary 77) Her displeasure is indicated at the first mention of her daughter’s gender; Emma Bovary faints. The combined mother-wife role coupled with her inability to climb the social ladder renders Emma conflicted. She suffers from her unconscious and unfulfilled desires and expresses an erratic and promiscuous nature. An unhappy marriage, due to an unsuitable partner, forces her to live vicariously through fantasies. The “love” she idealizes is unrealistic; Emma characterizes it as sudden with “great thunderclaps and bolts of lightning” or a “hurricane from heaven that drops down on your life and overturns it” (Madame Bovary 87). This turmoil in psyche and the unconscious invites hackneyed illusions of romanticism, formed from her innate personality.
Beyond external limitations, Emma suffers from inherent narcissism. Romanticism is only a byproduct of her pathological narcissism and flight from realism, partially due to her reading. Frustration stems from the contrast between the imaginary bourgeois existence she is “destined” for and the unrealistic expectation cultivated by her books. Since childhood, Emma enamors herself with historical romance and dreams of living in old manors, spending her days sighing at a white-plumed horseman riding on his black steed, and sitting under trefoiled ogives. Her ardent veneration for ill-fated women such as Joan of Arc, Agnes Sorel, or Clemence Isaure foreshadow her future demise as she strives, without caution, to fulfill her bourgeoise dreams. (Madame Bovary 32) Furthermore, her external and individual psychology make it appear as if narcissism is a reactive phenomenon and an exalted conception of herself. As the German psychoanalyst Karen Horney describes it, Emma Bovary’s adult characteristics are due to her role as a only child, and her father’s belief that she was “gifted beyond average, favored and [the] admired child”. Her father believes she is too clever to farm, and Emma slowly cultivates a sense of superiority to her surroundings, which continues after marriage (Flaubert). After dismissing a previous servant for a trivial mistake, Emma employs a fourteen-year old orphan and proceeds to “[forbid] her from wear[ing] cotton caps and teach[es] her [to] address one in the third person”, ultimately attempting to turn her into her own lady’s maid. (Madame Bovary 51). Those around Emma are forced to into those around her to subject themselves to her ideals and dreams. Emma also possess lofty claims and weak “shoulds”; as a Horneyan narcissist she is the idealized self and does not push to become who she feels she ought to be as a mother or wife. When her toddling daughter Berthe approaches her for attention, Emma, in a state of romantic dreaming, forces her away. As the girl repeatedly attempts to near her mother, Emma finally pushes her to the ground, causing Berthe to bleed. The excuse, “the baby was playing and has just fallen and hurt herself”, depicts Emma’s disinterest and detachment from her child. Due to her desires to confirm that feeling of “specialness” in the idealized image, she longs to live the bourgeoisie lifestyle and marry an aristocratic husband, even after her marriage with Charles Bovary (Thorpe). She continually pursues after a romantic relationship with Leon, Rodolphe, and even attempts to seduce the tax collector Binet after falling in extreme debt. Still, Emma has an unquestioned belief in her “greatness and uniqueness”, which leads to a false hope and attainment of these young illusions, or surface optimism, and undercurrents of pessimism from disappointments. Thus, her intense feeling of rage and despair appears.
Emma Bovary struggles with societal conformity. The societal oppression, narcissist thoughts, and growing discontent among the petty bourgeoisie influence her thoughts and desires. She seeks extramarital relationships to cope with her internal struggles, thus neglecting her family, finances, and inward focus.
The Mirroring of the Blind Beggar to Madame Bovary
The blind beggar is used in Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert to reflect the character Madame Bovary. As the plot and characters develop, the beggar is interspersed into the novel at significant moments to emphasize the meaning and emotions of that particular scene, essentially as an objective correlative. Because of Emma Bovary’s immense amount of emotions, Flaubert uses the beggar to better express all of the emotions that she is feeling to the readers. The beggar is also used to have the readers experience the same general uneasiness that Emma is feeling, by stimulating the same emotions in the reader.
Emma Bovary experiences constantly changing emotions throughout the entire novel but the underlying characteristic that doesn’t change about her is her inability to be content. This ultimately will end up ruining her life. She spends so much of her time desperately reaching for that which she can not have that she forgets to take the time to enjoy what she does have. Every time she reaches for something that should be unattainable to her, the blind beggar is there to express the uneasiness Emma is feeling. Such an example of this is on page 263; “Sometimes he would suddenly appear behind Emma, bare-headed. She would draw back with a cry” In this scene, Emma is in the Hirondelle on her way back from one of her many trips to see Léon. Her mind is only focused on the thought of her beloved Léon and she cries out “sweet words and kisses that were lost in the wind” (pg, 262). However, upon seeing the beggar she is yanked back unwillingly to reality. She becomes filled with anxiety because she is no longer in her bubble, far above sin and poverty. The significance of stating that the beggar is “bare-headed” is used to further shatter Emma’s illusions of living the upper class lifestyle that she fools herself into thinking she has. The phrase “bareheaded” was also used at the beginning when Emma is looking out the window which served as a symbol that separates the upper class from the lower class. “And the bailiff’s clerk, bareheaded and holding a sheet of paper in his hand would often stop to listen as he walked past the house in his cloth shoes” (pg 40). Those who had wealth could afford a hat, and those who couldn’t were “bareheaded”. Emma can’t even escape the reality of poverty in her own home.
The beggar also physically represents Emma. While the beggar is grotesque on the outside, Emma is grotesque on the inside. As unfortunate as his life is, the beggar still sings happy songs and “whenever he spoke to anyone he would throw back his head and laugh idiotically.”(page 262). Emma was “so beautiful” (pg 22) and not only in Charles’ eyes for she caught the attention of several other men. However, on the inside, she was grotesque. She was unable to ever be grateful with what she had and so she selfishly took what she could not have. She put her emotions before everyone else’s. Even when her husband, Charles, found out his father had died she made little to no effort to pretend like she was downhearted. All she could think about was how pathetic Charles looked when her cried. “He seemed to her contemptible, weak and insignificant, a poor man in every sense of the word. How could she get rid of him?” (pg 247). He was nothing like her lovely, wealthy Léon. She spent the rest of the evening trying to block out external sensations that would distract her from her memories of the time she spent alone with Léon. This included blocking out Charles when he needed her the most. The disgust Emma feels with her own life, she refracts onto the beggar. “…like a starving dog. Emma, overcome with disgust, tossed him a five franc coin over her shoulder. It was her entire fortune. Throwing it away like that seemed to her a noble gesture.” (page 296).
Both Emma and the blind beggar are doing what they feel is needed to survive. The beggar acts like a dog to show his appreciation to the pharmacist who pretends he can help cure him of his blindness. Emma acts like a dog in the sense that she uses the tricks that she learned from her romance novels to lure people into being under the influence of her charm. In this sense, they are both reverting back to a primal state. The beggar is similar to a tame dog, doing tricks to try to earn money. Emma is similar to a wild dog, moved by her animalistic impulses to just take what she wants with little to no regard for the people she is taking from. This being said, Emma Bovary is still aware of the few tricks she needs to get ahead in life. For the most part though, she refuses to be domesticated. There is also symbolism in the fact that she won’t even look at the beggar when she tosses him the coin. She merely tosses it over her shoulder, believing that she is so far above him. She is attempting to stay in the illusion that she is of the upper class, and therefore better in every sense of the word than the beggar. However, in reality, she is merely middle class and in morals, the blind beggar comes out ahead. In a sense, Emma is just as blind as the beggar because she thinks she knows what she wants but on the contrary, she is incredibly indecisive. “How could she have misjudged him so seriously once again, she who was so intelligent?” (page 180). She is referring to Charles in this scene and this is one of the rare cases in which Emma attempts to take the blame for a decision she made. She only does this because of her constant regret of marrying Charles and her inability to make any real attempts to remedy her situation besides adultery, which even still did not satisfy her or fix anything.
The beggar appears in almost every scene that Emma is stressed. He is there when she is in her frantic search for money, on her trips to see Léon, and even when she is dying. As she lays there on her deathbed, she hears him singing for one last time “and she began to laugh, a horrible, frenzied desperate laugh, imagining that she could see the wretched beggar’s hideous features looming in the shadows of eternity like the face of terror itself”(pg 321). Emma too has gone mad in the fear of death and just like the blind beggar would “laugh idiotically” (pag 262) Emma is laughing. She is in some way realizing that the horrible beggar is a reflection of all the mistakes she made in her life and that will haunt her for eternity. Flaubert described the beggar on page 295; “in general he seemed almost idiotic”. Emma was able to present herself much better in life. However, in death she was just as idiotic and mad as the beggar. This irony that Flaubert uses is to show that Emma’s life only catches up to her when she is about to die, thus her true side is revealed. “And in his eyes she saw a love such as she had never seen before”(pg 312). Emma is finally realizing just how much Charles loves her and that she really could have learned to have been content all along. Emma’s life continues to be revealed even after death, which is when Charles discovers all her affairs. “She was corrupting him from beyond the grave” (pg 338) but despite this, Charles still deeply loves her.
Not long after Emma’s death, Homais “finally managed to have the beggar locked up… his enemy was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in an asylum” (pg 339). In the end, both characters, who thrived only off of the attention of others, are destined to spend an eternity alone, Emma in death, and the beggar in an asylum. They mirrored each other for their entire lives and even after one of their lives ended, they still continued to reflect each other.
Analysis of the Death of Emma in Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary, is a novel about a woman named Emma and how her affairs and desires lead to her demise. Flaubert alludes the overall meaning of Madame Bovary in every section of this novel. This holds especially true for the closing section, when Emma dies and the reader is shown how the town reacts. This novel is supposed to avert young women from being adulterers by showing the consequences of adultery and romantic unrealism. This is conveyed through the harshness of Emma’s death, the impact and outcome of Charles’ life, and the reaction of the town.
Emma commits suicide by consuming a handful of arsenic, she does this because she thinks it will be a painless and rather easy death . However it does not end this way, Emma death is long and full of suffering. This is a consequences for all her adulterous and irresponsible actions, that she thought she could get away with. Emma not only cheated on Charles(with 2 full blown affairs) she also consistently took advantage of his money and sent them into a tremendous amount of debt. Emma attempts to run away from her debt and failing affairs by committing suicide and Flaubert does not allow her to go with ease. Flaubert torchures Emma and finally gives her a taste of her own medicine. He also contrasts Emma’s idealization of her death, which is peaceful and painless, with a grotesque version of suicide. Flaubert refuses to let Emma continue to live in her romanticized fantasy life. The closing finally forces Emma to suffer the consequences of her own actions, thus providing a warning to the reader.
The closing also shows the reader how Emma’s actions also affected others. Emma caused Charles to go into debt and lose all the money that he worked so hard for. Emma also broke his heart when he finally found out about his affairs. After Emma died Charles wanted her to be buried in the finest green velvet and he also did not want to sell any of her things, which only caused him to go into further debt. Then while going through a desk he would have to give to the debt collector, Charles found a love letter to Emma from Rodolphe. Then as he proceeded to investigate he found all the other love letter Emma received, both from Leon and Rodolphe. To add insult to injury Charles ran into Rodolphe at the market where they proceeded to talk about the affair. Poor Charles could not take anything else at this point because shortly after Berthe found him dead. Emma’s actions pushed Charles to an early death and caused Berthe to lose both of her parents. Flaubert does this to show what happens when one is selfish and does not consider how their actions could affect others.
After Emma’s death everything in the town continues as if nothing ever happened. Even Leon and Rodolphe proceeded with their lives as if nothing ever happened, Leon aven got married. This shows the reader that being selfish and adulterous gets you nowhere in life. Though you might think you are important to the people you are having the affairs with, you can vanish and they will not be affected, at all.
Irony As a Main Stylistic Device in Madame Bovary
Irony can be separated into three distinct categories: situational, dramatic and verbal. The first two of these ironies can be seen throughout Flaubert’s text, and there are distinct instances whereby they are seen to heighten the pathos of the narrative. Verbal irony as defined by Christopher Warner as occurring ‘when the speaker says the opposite of what he means,’ (Warner:2016) is in fact present within Madame Bovary, however, it tends not to be incorporated with or around poignant events and thus there is no pathos for it to influence. It can be said that although not all forms of irony are utilised to add to the narrative’s pathos, more so are than are not, and so it is the case that the irony within the text, indeed does not take away from pathos, on the contrary, it only adds to it.
The first form of irony in discussion here is situational irony; arguably the most commonly understood of the three, it occurs when ‘a state of affairs or an event [..] seems deliberately contrary to what was or might be expected’ (NA: 2015). This device can be seen in the denouement of Flaubert’s novel where it adds to the pathos of the narrative. It is made clear throughout the text that the protagonist Emma has a warped idea of romance, and consequently the character yearns to be loved not only by any man, but by a man who could not live without her. It is this desire that significantly contributes to the character’s despair and eventually her suicide. The Situational Irony lies within the fact that the only man who indeed could not live without Emma was her husband, Charles, the very character who’s love she repeatedly dismisses as ‘nothing startling’ (Flaubert: 35), and in turn the last character one would assume would be able to fulfil Emma’s desire. The narrator describes the protagonist’s feelings of disappointment towards her husband stating that it was ‘inconceivable that this calm life of hers could really be the happiness of which she used to dream’ (Flaubert: 27). The character’s romanticised ideas of love are presented further when she claims to believe that love inevitably involves ‘aching hearts, promising, sobbing, kisses and tears’ (Flaubert: 29). It is only after the protagonist’s suicide that it is clear the character Charles lives up to Emma’s romanticised expectations of love, Flaubert presents this as the character dies shortly after his wife. The character dies ‘choking like an adolescent from the vague amorous yearning that swelled his achy heart’ (Flaubert: 295). Flaubert’s use of irony here is heart-rending for the reader, as he directly references Emma’s very desire for ‘aching hearts’ (Flaubert: 29), presenting a manifest similitude between the character’s fatal desires and her actualities. It is here where pathos is created, although it is arguable that suicide will unavoidably evoke sadness in the reader, regardless of narrative and situation, it is the irony and in turn the notion that the character’s death was needless which heightens this sense of sympathy and pity.
The next form of irony discussed, and one perhaps less commonly understood, is dramatic irony, which can be defined by G.G Sedgewick as a device which occurs ‘when someone on the stage reveals a failure to comprehend a situation of which the audience have understanding.’ (Sedgewick: 102) This is yet another form of irony which amplifies the novel’s pathos, this can be seen in the protagonist’s courtship with the character Rudolphe; Emma believes that she has finally found a man who can truly love her, and whom she can share the ‘happiness of which she used to dream’ (Flaubert: 32). This belief is not shared with the reader, as we are aware due to the omniscient narrator that the character does not intend to stay with Emma, nor does he love her. Flaubert presents this in describing Rudolphe’s views on women as the narrator states that to him ‘Emma was just another mistress’ (Flaubert: 159). This ironic device evokes sadness and pity within the reader, as the majority of the novel is written from Emma’s perspective it is naturally with her character that our sympathies lie. Yet it is in this instance where the narrator gives us an insight to Rudolphe’s thoughts, that we are left feeling both unsettled and helpless, as we wait for the turmoil to unfold unbeknownst to Emma. The pathos here is heightened as we are simultaneously aware of Emma’s need for love and Rudolphe’s lack thereof.
The final instance in which irony can be seen to enhance pathos is presented in the protagonist’s suicide. This situational irony occurs as the character Emma chooses to poison herself with Arsenic, believing that it will cause a quick and painless death, however it is the exact opposite which she experiences. The character’s misunderstanding of the poison’s effect is presented as she states immediately after eating it, in a rather nonchalant manner ‘I’m going to fall asleep and it’ll all be over’ (Flaubert:266). As previously stated this is vastly different to the time-consuming, painful death the character actually experiences; the narrator presents this intense pain describing the ‘ghostly jolting of [Emma’s] ribs, shaken by the furious breathing, as if her soul were jerking to break free’ (Flaubert: 274). The death is not only presented as painful but also extremely time-consuming as Flaubert dedicates almost an entire chapter to its description. Here, irony adds to the pathos as the character’s ill understanding of the poison lead to an agonising death, of which she was not prepared. As a reader, the fact that Emma believed her death would be fast and painless only adds to the sadness we feel when reading of the contrary excruciation that she actually felt.
To conclude, in the case of Madame Bovary, it can be said that irony does not take away from pathos, on the contrary, it only adds to it. The two forms of irony utilised in Flaubert’s text which help in doing so, are situational and dramatic irony. Although there are cases where Flaubert incorporates verbal irony within the novel’s dialogue, these are not mentioned within the essay as they tend to not be involved with poignant events and so to argue whether it adds to pathos or not, would be non-viable.
Life Of Madame Bovary
Madam Bovary : Theme Analysis
There are some people who, on their deathbeds, regret their lives for not having enjoyed it to the fullest and having missed on the real meaning of their lives. The issue is far more deeper than that, and Gustave Flaubert’s novel, Madame Bovary explores in great detail the psychology and reason behind such wasted lives. The novel’s protagonist, Emma Bovary, lives an abstracted life, full of expectations that she learned from romantic novels. She tosses away all reality if it doesn’t align itself with her expectations, and thus ends up dying a pitiful death. This novel, written in 1856, marks the transition between romanticism, an idealized world governed by subjective feelings, to realism, the portrayal of life in its truest form. Thus Madam Bovary portrays the flaws of senseless romanticism, by exploring the psychology of a person who lives in an abstracted world rather than the real world.
Emma Bovary’s childhood was filled with romantic novels where she learned of her only definition of a perfect and happy life as described in those stereotypical books. Those books however wrongly thought her that a happy life filled with love is only attainable through sublime clothes and pretty looking places. So from everything, she decided “to extract some personal profit; and she discarded as useless anything that did not lend itself to the heart’s immediate satisfaction”(75) as portrayed in the novels, and she believed that “certain places on earth must produce happiness”(98). Flaubert’s point was not that romantic novels are evil. He simply wanted to point out that when ideas are solely learned and constructed from novels, life becomes full of expectations that do not match the complex reality we live in. This idea also appears in Don Quixote by Cervantes. The only difference is that Quixote was able to adapt and adjust what he learned from his book to reality, unlike Emma who expected things to flawlessly comfort to her expectations. This made her ignore all reality in front of her and any love that did not resemble the ones presented in her novels, “She confused, in her desire, sensual luxury with true joy, elegance of manners with delicacy of sentiment.”(200) Her novels only helped her build ideas of reality, but they never thought her any emotional attraction. This is also the reason why when she visited the luxurious castle of the Marquis, she ended up completely forgetting about her indecent childhood(100). Her ideas and expectations were all fabricated from books, she never developed any sense of moral or sentimental attachment to anything. A life based on baseless romanticism, not only lead to senseless attachment but it is also full of boredom. When Emma gets bored of her husband, she starts having an affair with Leon, the young clerk, then later on she also has an affair with Randolph Boulanger, the wealthy landowner and womanizer(90). She temporarily “recover[ed] in adultery the platitudes of marriage” (200) and found pleasure in these affairs since they reflected the kind of affairs that happened in her novels. These affairs never lasted since her blind dreams led her to only pay attention to outside appearance, not internal motivations.
Flaubert’s language and technique also reflect just how miserable and depressing a life completely based on expectations can be. One literary device that he uses which was common in his days is irony. Throughout the book, we see many instances of irony, some obvious to spot, other requiring more careful analysis. For instance, the book comprises opposite contrasting scenes, such as the gloomy Bovary’s wedding and the Marquis’s extravagant ball in Part I. Another irony includes the difference in eloquence between the Prefect’s and Rodolphe’s speech at the Agriculture show(109). Looking deeper, we have two sets of foils : Charles Bovary’s two wives and Emma’s two lovers. These foils and ironies emphasize the contrast between Emma’s utopia from novels and the realistic and boring world we live in. The contrast between her dreams and reality. Another technique Flaubert uses is the chronological progression of the scenes. Although the chapters follow themselves in chronological order, the time frame between each one of them is different. In the chapters talking about her Emma’s affair with Leon, time goes extremely fast and we have as much as 3 months gone by between 2 chapters(Part 2 Chapters 3 and 4). Towards the end of the book, there is almost no time gap between chapters. This makes Emma’s time with Leon as a short lived pleasure. Emma’s dream to be happy is only short lived since it relies entirely on expectations. When Emma is bored, the chapters are long(Part 2 chapters 3 and 12). This was intentionally done by Flaubert who meticulously detailed everything as to make it ‘boring’ to reflect Emma’s state as she gets bored with her unhappy life with Charles and Leon. Furthermore, the author’s diction and detail create a sad yet detached tone. Faubert directly describes scenes as they are happening but we do not feel any pity for his characters. For instance, the scene of Emma’s death is described in such a way that we feel her agony but cannot relate to her. The best thing we can do is to learn of the foolishness of a life based on foolish expectations and flawed reality.
Gustave Flaubert challenged the idea of romanticism by presenting the simple yet deep life of Emma Bovary. Ideas about reality constructed from novels or nonsensical romanticism or senseless ideas of a utopia only lead to a sorrowful life since reality is much more complex than that. We have to adapt ourselves and accept the reality that’s in front of us rather than foolishly seek our dreams.
Depiction Of Human Nature in Madame Bovary
Madam Bovary : Style Analysis
The tone of this extract from Madam Bovary is gloomy and bitter. Emma Bovary is trapped in the hole of sadness which she makes no effort to escape. Her expectations of reality are too complex to be fulfilled in real life. So her ideas of perfect love and happiness are all fabricated and amount to nothing.
The author’s diction shows the depth of Emma’s suffering as well as her foolishness. She believes that her “melancholy” caused by Charles’s indifference “exasperated” her and that she can’t escape it but has to “clave” to it. The author makes it seems as if Emma is trapped in deep pain and is doomed. Suffering is part of life and can be resolved, but the author creates the image of an Emma who is foolishly and consciously holding onto her pain. She believes that she is “virtuous” and deserves “felicity” which is obstructed by Charles’s “ingratitude”. The irony from her beliefs in happiness arises when she thinks of committing adultery while claiming that she is simply escaping her boring husband. Although Charles is genuinely seeking Emma’s happiness, she stays blinded by her erroneous conception of “felicity” that she can’t treat others well. The author’s diction is depressing but since he acts detached from Emma, we cannot empathize with her, only contemplate her foolishness.
The author’s detail reinforces Emma’s foolishness as she gets upset over every little thing, big or small. Things that are “half-opened” or “ill-served” in her house irritate her. If she were in someone else’s house then she might have a right to complain, but since she is in her own room, she is not allowed to. She is busy complaining about her life that she becomes lazy enough not to close a door or serve or self. She further believes that the “domestic mediocrity” from Charles caused her the “lusts of the flesh”. A house with a broken relationship can be fixed if both partners collaborate, but Emma hasn’t directly told her husband but expects him to somehow do something. And ironically she wants to further destroy their relationship by having an affair with someone. The author’s careful and meticulous detail show the extent of Emma’s foolishness and her pride.
The third-person omniscient point of view highlights the narrator’s mockery of Emma’s choices. While noting that Emma “had loathing of this hypocrisy”, the narrator contradictory asks “For whose sake, then was she virtuous?” The narrator accurately reflects Emma’s attitude toward her hypocrisy. But by asking a question with no answer, he immediately detaches himself from her. He continues mocking her by saying, “Her[Emma] own gentleness to herself made her rebel against him” and that “What exasperated her was that Charles did not seem to notice her anguish”. Emma believes that Charles is the one responsible for her pain, but the author believes otherwise. He asks rhetorical questions and affirm things that make us realize Emma’s foolishness in complaining but taking no concrete action. The third person point of view only describes the character’s feelings without directly influencing our opinions of them; this allows us to realize the deeper meaning of the work.
The organization of this short passage moves from introductory, to blaming, and then finally to bitter. The first section of the passage sets the stage for our analysis Emma and her complex nature. She is perceived as an arrogant and foolish person who wants her expectations of life to be fulfilled in reality . The next portion then introduces Emma’s scapegoat for all her troubles, Charles Bovary. She believes that he is at fault for everything since he does not meet her expectations of a ‘real’ husband, and she keeps blaming him for the drift that’s beginning to show in their relationship. This ever growing drift which Emma doesn’t want to close leads to the bitter tone of the last section. She expects the situation to progress and become better on its own, just like in novels. This pattern is also repeated throughout the book which shows how much time the author dedicated to his work.
Flaubert’s novel carefully analyzes the complexity and psychology of human nature in their interpretation of reality. He uses a beautiful and elegant language to convey Emma’s state of mind and thought process which allows the reader to draw inspiring life lessons.
A Woman as a Resource: Emma’s Marital Status
Published in 1856, the novel Madame Bovary is one of the first to explore the issue of women’s disempowerment in a pointedly modern fashion. As a woman, the protagonist Emma experiences a number of obstacles that prevent her from reaching what she desires the most. Emma is viewed as a valuable asset, rather than as an individual; her prestige depends on her husband’s social status, which makes her a mere “attachment” to another person. Thus, Emma doesn’t posses the power she needs to reach her ambitions and learns that men cannot help her in obtaining what she wishes, too.
In the novel, Emma stands not as an independent person, but as a valuable commodity to be traded. After realizing Charles’s intentions towards his daughter, old Rouault considers not Emma’s feelings, but possible personal financial gain from a potential marriage, “When, therefore, he perceived that Charles’s cheeks grew red if near his daughter, which meant that he would propose for her one of these days, he chewed the cud of the matter beforehand. He certainly thought him a little meager, and not quite the son-in-law he would have liked, but he was said to be well brought-up, economical, very learned, and no doubt would not make too many difficulties about the dowry”. Emma is no more than a precious asset her father uses to better his financial situation, “Now, as old Rouault would soon be forced to sell twenty-two acres of “his property,” as he owed a good deal to the mason, to the harness-maker, and as the shaft of the cider-press wanted renewing, “If he asks for her,” he said to himself, “I’ll give her to him”. Therefore, this novel explores the idea of a woman, being treated as a profitable commodity, rather than as a person.
After marriage, Emma’s social status becomes higher due to esteemed position her husband takes. This signifies Charles’s superiority over his wife. During wedding, old Rouault condemns one of the traditional wedding games that, on his opinion, don’t suit his future son-in-law status, “…a fishmonger, one of their cousins (who had even brought a pair of soles for his wedding present), began to squirt water from his mouth through the keyhole, when old Rouault came up just in time to stop him, and explain to him that the distinguished position of his son-in-law would not allow of such liberties.” At the same time, Emma’s desire to get married at midnight under the torch light is ignored, “Emma would, on the contrary, have preferred to have a midnight wedding with torches, but old Rouault could not understand such an idea”. From the start of the couple’s relationships, Charles is viewed as the leader of the household. Emma, on the other side, serves as an “attachment” to her husband, whose wishes are not quite as important.
Emma’s submissive position motivates her to use the men as an indirect tool of achieving her goals. This method limits Emma’s power and brings her only disappointment. At first, Leon meets Emma’s romantic ideals. The two become close and Emma seems to have found the sophistication and refined taste in art she always searched for in her lover. As the time goes by, Emma notices Leon’s weak character and limited intelligence, “She accused Leon of her baffled hopes, as if he had betrayed her; and she even longed for some catastrophe that would bring about their separation, since she had not the courage to make up her mind to it herself”. Once again, at the minute of need, when Emma urges Leon to provide her with financial help, he makes up excuses to avoid doing so, “Go, try, try! I will love you so!” He went out, and came back at the end of an hour, saying, with solemn face—“I have been to three people with no success”. Charles’s passivity prevents Emma from entering higher social circles and having elegant life she desires; she falls in love and seeks fulfillment of her wishes in Rodolphe, who loses interest in an “insane” lover and leaves her, “She sighed. “We would go and live elsewhere—somewhere!” “You are really mad!” he said laughing. “How could that be possible?” This way, as a woman, Emma doesn’t have a power she needs to achieve her goals and fails to receive whatever she wants from the men around her.
In a progressive feminist novel Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert depicts the struggles of a representative woman who is viewed as a financial resource, rather than an individual. Emma is defined by her husband’s social status, rather her personal achievements; she becomes disillusioned and bitter by her husband’s and lovers’ failures to fulfill her ambitions.
Conflicts and Struggle of Power Between the Different Social Clases
German philosopher Friedrich Engels once said “All history has been a history of class struggles between dominated classes at various stages of social development”. In all societies, each social class has unique characteristics and distinctions, especially in lifestyles and privileges within their respective cultures; however, when differences between social classes become too great, problems begin to arise. Despite the different settings of Allende’s The House of the Spirits and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, the distinctions between social classes in each novel produce the same problematic results for the characters; the problematic results demonstrate the negative effect of vast distinctions between social classes.
Allende depicts the differences between the social classes in The House of the Spirits well through the interaction between the people of Tres Marias. Tres Marias contains two major social classes: the landowning class and the peasant class. The landowning class consists of the Trueba family, for Esteban Trueba is the patron of the hacienda, while the peasant class consists of the hacienda’s workers, including the Garcia family. Allende presents the two classes as foils of each other. While Allende portrays the wealth of the landowning class through their fancy clothing, she depicts the peasant class as poor through their filthy rags. Relationship-wise, the landowning class has complete control over the peasant class; the Truebas have control over the happenings in the hacienda and the people who work there. While the peasants toil over the land, all of the rewards go towards the Truebas. The distinctions between the two social classes make them too different to live in harmony, causing major problems for the characters. Because of his title as the patron of Tres Marias, Esteban Trueba finds himself superior to the peasants and expects the rest of his family to feel the same. However, the other family members’ involvement with the lower social class causes tensions within the family. To get around her father’s prohibition, Blanca hides her relationship with Pedro Tercero. “Without anyone telling them, they realized that they could not act so freely in front of others… they began to hide when they wanted to play. They stopped walking hand in hand within sight of the adults, and they ignored each other so as not to attract attention” (Allende 147). Once Esteban Trueba discovers Blanca’s secret, he becomes furious with her. Blanca’s brothers Jaime and Nicolas also have interactions with the peasant class. Both feel sympathetic and charitable towards the workers of Tres Marias and other people less fortunate. Their involvement with the peasants causes tension between them and their father because Esteban Trueba does not want them to ruin the family reputation by becoming involved with people below them. Because of the great differences between the two classes, jealousy arises. Esteban Garcia provides a perfect example; Esteban Garcia envies the Truebas’ luxurious life and believes that if Esteban Trueba realizes and accepts that the Trueba blood flows through his veins as well, he too can live that life. However, Esteban Trueba fails to acknowledge Esteban Garcia as his illegitimate grandson, which results in a growing hatred within Esteban Garcia. This hatred fuels Esteban Garcia’s desire for revenge.
In Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, differences between social classes also cause problems for the characters. As a member of the bourgeoisie, protagonist Emma Bovary finds herself bored with the lifestyle of her social class and desires the elegant life of the aristocrats. Emma uses her affairs with Rodolphe and the new, cosmopolitan Leon in order to feel like she belongs in higher society. As the story continues, her desire for acceptance by the aristocrats becomes out of control and her endeavors fail to meet her expectations. Ironically, as Emma tries to force her way into a higher class, she ends up falling down a class. “The men whispered in one corner, probably discussing the expenses. There were a clerk, two medical students, and a shop assistant. What company for her! As for the women, Emma quickly realized from their voices that almost all of them were from the dregs of society. Then she grew frightened, pushed back her chair, and lowered her eyes” (Flaubert 273). Flaubert uses irony to show how Emma realizes that she has failed to live the social lifestyle she originally envisions. The difference and the isolation of the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy cause Emma to concoct ideal visions of the lives of the aristocrats, which does not reflect reality. This results in Emma trying to realize her ideal expectations of the upper class, which eventually leads to her death.
The House of the Spirits and Madame Bovary incorporate the dangers of the vast differences in social class in similar ways. For example, both authors have social class bring about tragedies in their novels’ plots. In The House of the Spirits, Esteban Garcia personifies the struggle involving social class. As a child, Esteban Garcia aspires to become a recognized part of the Trueba family and the landowning class. However, his illegitimate grandfather fails to acknowledge him as part of the family, spurring hate within Esteban Garcia which intensifies as he becomes older. This hate fuels his desire for revenge on the Trueba family, which he releases upon Alba Trueba, who he keeps as a personal prisoner. In Madame Bovary, Emma’s desire to change social classes brings about her ultimate downfall. Desiring to enhance her social class, she buys extravagant gifts for her lovers. Her expenses, however, bring her deeper into debt. Under desperate measures to get herself out of debt, she takes her own life. Also, both Esteban Garcia and Emma Bovary, the characters involved with the social class-caused tragedies, aspire to rise in social classes; in the end Esteban Garcia succeeds while Emma does not.
Allende and Flaubert use different distinctions between their cultures’ social classes in order to create the conflict in their respective novels. In The House of the Spirits, Allende describes the peasant class as less classy than the landowning class. In fact, Allende describes them in a negative way. “They were a sorry lot. He saw various women of indecipherable age, their skin dry and cracked, some apparently pregnant, all of them barefoot and dressed in faded rags” (49). The landowning class, the Trueba family, owns a large estate, has a lot of power over the other class, and benefits from the peasants’ work. In Madame Bovary, Flaubert uses the protagonist’s influence on the reader to characterize the two classes. Emma finds her bourgeoisie life boring and mediocre. The reader perceives the aristocratic class as superior because Emma believes so. Also, the two novels have different settings. Allende’s novel takes place in a Latin American country whereas Flaubert’s novel takes place in France. The novels, which have similar conflicts that revolve around distinctions between social classes, occur in different settings, but still produce the same, tragic result. This proves that issues caused by the differences in social classes can happen in any culture.
In their respective novels, Allende and Flaubert demonstrate that the differences between social classes can have negative impacts on the lives of the characters. The great differences cause Emma Bovary and Esteban Garcia to strive to become part of the better class. As a result of their efforts, they cause tragedies within their respective novels’ plots. The novels teach its readers that the increase in differences between social classes can have dire results. They also encourage the readers keep these results in mind while they look at our own culture in order to make sure that differences in social classes do not have the same or similar negative impacts.
Gustave Flaubert’s Description of the Fight for Women to Live According to Rules Set by the Community as Indicated in Her Book, Madame Bovary
“Then upon the mouth, which had spoken lies, moaned in pride and cried out in lust”(256). Emma Bovary’s attempts to achieve her unrealistic desires are also an attempt to break free of the restraints society puts on women. Unfortunately, she is not in a position to break through these barriers because of the lack of power women have in this time period. Her actions represent the struggle that women had trying to maintain an image to fit society’s standards.
Emma Bovary talks about giving birth to a child so that he could live the life that she was not able to have. She does not want her son to be hampered by society’s restrictions because it would give her some meaning to her life to have a child that “is free”(23). Their society does not give women the opportunity to live fulfilling lives because they are limited in what they can achieve. Having a son to Emma represents the state of women’s rights in the 19th century and it accurately depicts the struggle that comes with being a woman when you have to hope to have a son to be free. This is why Emma Bovary lacks any financial stability because women during this time period did not have the ability to make almost any money the way that men did. A woman’s role was to be played in the house and more as a subservient to a man rather than their equal. These restrictions led Emma to riddle her marriage with dishonesty and infidelity.
Emma continues to struggle with achieving her unfulfilled desires because Charles does not seem to interest her after a short period of time. She does not have a viable excuse for her infidelity because she knew it was wrong by the restrictions of her marriage and she cannot justify her infidelity. Emma’s actions depict a woman who is selfish enough to violate the laws of marriage for her own needs.
“She thirsted for his lips, she longed for his love and cursed herself for having allowed him to leave. She could not comprehend through what weakness or virtue she had deprived herself of such a happiness”(293).
In this situation, I believed that in the back of her mind she thought about Charles feelings momentarily which is why she did not go through with having intercourse with Leon this time. She understands how unfaithful she is and the image that she is presenting to those she encounters. At the same time, she seems unable to contain herself and her desires because she continues to be dishonest and continues her acts of infidelity. This is not a matter of society restraining her from her actions because she placed herself in this scenario by setting such high expectations for her desires. It is impossible for her to even get a taste of the desires because they are so far out of reach. Emma does what she wants although she knows there may be consequences because she is still longing that happiness that she has yet to find in her life.
Emma portrays herself as a selfish and very needy individual because of her thirstiness for not only her own happiness, but for financial stability as well. I can understand that because she is a woman she does not have the power to make money the way she wants to, but she wants more money than some men have. Her financial instability eventually contributes to her downfall because she ends up in debt not being able to pay off the money she owes. It shows her carelessness and it shows how immoral she is acting considering she puts Charles in such a difficult situation to handle. The only sympathy that I have for her is because she is unable to do anything about her financial status. That is quickly countered by the fact that she continues to grow her debt although she knows that she does not have any financial funds to pull money from. That is what leads her to be reckless and ask various people for money because she digs herself a grave and eventually she has to lie in it.
Emma Bovary is put in a difficult situation in this book due to the fact that she is a woman with limited rights. Her situation only continues to grow worse the more she tries to fulfill her farfetched desires, which never happens. I can only help but wonder if her desires would be fulfilled if women had equal rights to men during this time. At the same time, I am sure it would help her financial status but her dream of finding the perfect man and living the perfect life would still be a dream to her.