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“Madame Bovary” Love, considered the most divine of all emotions. There has been nogreater driving force in the coarse of human history. It has made manstrive for excellence, kill in jealousy, and real in a trance of madness. With how influential this force is, its no wonder why throughout historylove and romance has been a major topic in literature. Romanticism is the art of romantic story telling, and a popular topic in the 19th century. The romantic ideal that would encompass every page also polluted reality. Reality and perfection could not exist in the same space, and Gustave Flaubert realized this. His book “Madame Bovary” was the bridge between Romanticism and Realism. The book sited a struggle between the two, between real life and fantasy. Almost the entire conflict can be characterized in the exploits of Emma. Emma was born unto an average life, by average parents, on an average farm. At the age of 13 she was sent to be schooled in a nearby convent. She enjoyed her rigid and stark living conditions, yet longed for more. She begins to read romance novels to fill the void within herself, and becomes completely involved in the pages. Because of her removal from the outside world, she feeds her sensitive nature with the books that were themselves corrupt with impossible ideals and fantasy. She then received news of her mother’s death, her first true loss. She wept for days and consoled herself through sentimental poetry and religious hymns. She retreated into a darker place where religion took on a sensual meaning and nothing truly mattered. She had finally ” attained that rare ideal of a pale, languid existence, beyond the reach of mediocre spirits.”(Flaubert 33). And with that, her father removed her from school. Emma returns home and meets her father’s doctor, Charles Bovary. He’s a horribly average man, yet he seems like Emma’s way to move up in the world. He had a successful practice, and was kind and gentle. Emma and Charles marry and she moves with him into the little city of Tostes. They are married no longer than a day before Emma’s fantasy world takes hold. She is already becoming bored with marriage; every day isn’t a honeymoon. She looks back on her books, what they defined life should be, constant romance and surprise. She sees a wide gap between her life with Charles and that of the romantic heroine. She settled into routine, having given up on trying to make the extraordinary out of the ordinary. She was unable to produce the slightest spark of love in her heart by such means, and as incapable of understanding what she did not feel as she was not of believing in anything that did not manifest itself in conventional forms, she easily convinced herself that there was no longer anything extraordinary about her love for Charles (Flaubert 37).The more Charles love grows for her, the more she withdrawal. She does not admire, or even respect a man who is content with his station in life. One of Charles’ patients invites them to a grand ball. One of the occasions Emma has only read and dreamed about. This is the beginning of the end of Emma. I t gave her a taste of what was missing from her life. She fantasizes about opulent parties and a change in life style. When her wants go unfulfilled, she plunges into a deep depression. Charles comes to the conclusion that the only thin to cure her is a change in scenery. The pack up and move from Tostes. To skip ahead, Emma finds their new home Yonnville equally boring. The town would be unbearable except for a young law clerk named Leon who shares the same ideals and interests as Emma. Nothing comes of the love hungry glances they share but it paves the way for Emma betrayal of Charles. To counteract her unhappiness, Emma begins to buy expensive things, and attempts to change her life through her positions. She has no care for how much she spends, and how much her debt begins to be.

During one of Charles procedures Emma meets Rodolphe, a wealthy aristocrat. He was a sly womanizer who wants nothing more than to claim Emma as a trophy. He succeeds in capturing Emma heart, body, and soul, with Charles none the wiser.The affair is everything Emma wanted everything she dreamed of. Along with her happiness, her spending increased as well and she plunged deeper in debt. She bought a new lifestyle and showered lavish gifts on Rodolfo. She eventually lost all reserve and blatantly walked through town flaunting her affair. Charles was too simply minded and too trusting to suspect a thing. As with a child and a new toy, Rodolphe quickly tired of his prize and wished to conquer new lands. He took his leave of Emma and left her with the idea that he still loved her. Once again she plunged into a deep, deep, depression which Charles mistook for an illness. Charles stayed with her for 43 consecutive days. He abandoned all his patients; he never went to bed; he was constantly feeling her pulse and applying mustard plasters or cold compresses (Flaubert 181). Charles lost what patients he still had and was forced to take a loan to pay the bills. And again Charles prescribes a change. He suggests a trip to Rouen to see the opera. While there they run into Leon who has become a clerk to a successful and prestigious law firm. Those love hungry emotions from back in Yonnville resurface and intensify. Emma starts to secretly meet Leon in Rouen each week. And once again her affair blinds her from everything around her. She and Charles are deep in debt, and she continues to spend. Her affair with Leon lasts until, she wants more. Why was life so unsatisfying? Why did everything she leaned on instantly crumble into dust?… But if somewhere there existed a strong, handsome man with valorous, passionate and refined nature, a poet’s soul in the form of an angel, a lyre with strings of bronze intoning elegiac nuptial songs to the heavens, why was it not possible that she might meet him some day? No, it would never happen! Besides, nothing was worth seeking-everything was a lie! Each smile hid a yawn of boredom, each joy a curse each pleasure its own disgust; and the sweetest kisses only left on one’s lips a hopeless longing for a higher ecstasy(Flaubert 245). At the moment her affair with Leon ends, so does her life. Her debts and loans are called due and after practically selling her body in search of money, she turns to Rodolphe. She begs for the money, yet Rodolphe claims he has no money. He says al this while surrounded by priceless works of art and even the expensive gift Emma had bought for him. And still he turns her away. At this point she realizes the differences between real life and the world she had in her head. Finally unable to deal with the sudden shock of reality Emma takes her own life. Flaubert vividly depicted how Emma’s dreamworld merged with reality, and offered her a way for her to survive the monotony of her existence, while ultimately destroying her. He described Romanticism in its most extreme and degenerative form. Showing how one must look toward idealism for hope, yet never get so caught up in it that the real world becomes a stranger to you.


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