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Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary” is a book of realism and romance written by Gustave Flaubert, and published in 1856. It tells the story of a woman named Emma Bovary, who has many dreams but reality always prevents her from achieving them. So she feels unhappy and tries to change her life and get to do what she always wanted.

This author shows us a work that breaks the patterns established by society, where the role of women was to stay at home and take care of their family. However, the central character Emma, defies these patterns by stopping attending to her own daughter Berthe to immerse herself in her passions, which never managed to fill her gaps.


Madame Bovary Characters:

The central character and protagonist of the story is Emma Bovary, a woman who seeks true happiness in her love relationships and luxuries. But she eventually commits suicide when she finds herself bankrupt and abandoned by her second lover.
We also find other characters such as Carlos Bovary, who is the husband of Emma; Eloísa Dubuc, who was Carlos’s first wife; Berthe, is the daughter of Carlos and Emma; Rodolphe is Emma’s lover; Leon, Emma’s second lover.

Summary of the work:

This book tells the story of a woman named Emma Bovary, who did not resign herself to her fate. She marries because she thought that in this way, she would obtain the life she dreamed of so much. But then he realizes that he was not happy. The novel has three parts.

 The first segment begins by recounting the childhood and youth of Carlos Bovary, and he married a widowed woman named Eloísa Dubua, but was not in love. For a time, he was working as a doctor, and so he was able to meet his second wife, Emma Bovary. Carlos fell in love with her from the first moment, and as fate things his wife died. So they decide to get married, but her love was slowly ending.

The second session of this book begins when Carlos and Emma move to another city. Here Emma realizes that she was not happy in her marriage, since it was not what she wanted for her life, and for this reason she felt a lot of helplessness. Later, Emma has a cute daughter named Berthe, who was looked after by a wet nurse Emma hired.

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Madame Bovary feels determined to make a change in her life, and she meets Rodolphe, whom she fell in love with, so she became his lover. Both make plans to escape together, but that day Rodolphe gives him a letter saying that he will not leave for his own good, and for this reason Emma became ill with her nerves, and had to stay in bed for a few months.

Finally, the story of Emma and her other lover named Leon is told. It all starts when Leon decided to show up in Emma’s room when her husband Carlos was gone. And from that moment a relationship began secretly.
In the course of the plot, Madame Bovary continues to waste money on luxuries, thus increasing her debts. But one day an order came from him to confiscate his house for a sum of money that he could not pay. So she asked Leon for help, but he left her. Emma was very uncontrolled by the news and decides to commit suicide with arsenic.

After Madame Bovary’s death, her husband Carlos gets the letter written by Rodolphe where he says goodbye to her, and in this way he finds out about his wife’s infidelity. But he continued to love her, Carlos’s life became very difficult, since they seized his house and his property for the debts that his late wife had left, which he did not know. Some time later Carlos Bovary becomes ill and dies. So her daughter Berthe is orphaned and cared for by a paternal aunt.

Analysis of “Madame Bovary“:

This work represents one of the most recognized French novels at the literary level, where the story of a woman who has many aspirations that broke social patterns is related. This woman idealized a perfect life full of luxuries and satisfactions that went out of control and led her to death. He marries thinking that it would be the solution to all his problems and that in this way he could achieve his aspirations, but on the contrary he found a routine life, so he was not happy, and he looked for happiness in his lovers. Which also didn’t completely fill her.

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In this way “Madame Bovary” is a work that is controversial, since it addresses controversial issues, where the issue of the role of women in society is questioned, and challenges the prejudices of the time in which the work was published (1856). However, and despite the criticism, it has been positively valued by critics and writers in general, as it represents a legitimate portal of literary modernity.

Finally, this work caused a scandal within the French bourgeoisie, where the woman was destined to form a home and lead a routine life, along with her husband. However, this author introduces us to a female character, determined to be carried away by passion and achieve that happiness that is increasingly distant, aspiring to break the rules and live a life full of complacencies. However the passions of her lovers and the luxuries, and uncontrolled waste, led her to suicide, seeing it as a way out of all the problems that she herself sought.

Verbatim quotes from the work:

 “The contempt of the people we love gradually distances us from them.”

“During his life he did not differentiate the desire for luxury with the happiness of the heart, as well as the habit with the feeling.”

“After someone’s death, people are surprised, so difficult is it to understand that they come from nowhere and resign themselves to believing it.”

“Emma was trying to see in her life that happiness, love and passion that appeared so beautifully in the books.”

“The saddest thing is having to drag a useless and meaningless life like me.”

“At the end of it all, he was the same as his other lovers, his passion made monotonous.”