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Madame Bovary Essay

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Matthew Pellegrino

IB English

Mrs. Krollage

Madame Bovary Essay

Madame Bovary is by all means a novel that depicts the Romantic Period of history, however it is also a strong commentary on people and society. Flaubert used Madame Bovary (the novel and the character) as a vessel through which he was able to express his own views concerning the social dynamic of the time, as well as his views on people in general. He is actually quoted as saying "Madame Bovary, c'est moi" or, "I am Madame Bovary". Flaubert despises the simple bourgeois and admires and exonerates the lives of the romantic members of the upper crust of society and often portrays this with characters in the novel. Flaubert also illustrates this through one's monetary status, but primarily with Emma's opinion of them. Oftentimes, if Emma looks down upon someone it is because they are poor, and if she respects them it's because they are rich and accomplished. For example, she looks down upon the denizens of the little farm town she first lives in, but dreams of mingling with the aristocracy in the saloons of Paris. The irony in this all is Emma herself; she is a paradox in that she sees herself as one of the rich elite even though she comes from a humble background, however she never becomes the type of lady she dreams of being, and is in debt for most of her life.

In his novel, Flaubert expresses his opinion on people through Emma's eyes and we quickly find that Emma disdains the bland and boring commoners and yearns for a life of romance and grandeur. This is especially evident on page 57 when Emma is reminiscing about the gala she attended, "Everything immediately surrounding her - the boring countryside, the idiotic bourgeois people, the mediocrity of everyday life- seemed to her an exception in the world, something she had fallen into by accident, while beyond all this the realm of bliss and passion stretched forth as far as the eye could see." Here, Flaubert states Emma's opinion on her home, the people around her, and her lifestyle as a whole very bluntly. Emma is disgusted by her boring little humdrum life, especially now that she's had a taste of higher society. The type of person that Emma respects is also made very clear on page 48 when she's at the ball and she sees the old man at the end of the table. "Emma's eyes kept turning back to this ... old man.... He had lived at court and gone to bed with queens!" Flaubert brings special attention to this old man by devoting a lengthy paragraph to him and describing him with particular detail, as well as noting how interested Emma is by him and how exciting she finds his life. This is exactly the kind of person she respects, one who is of great wealth, and led an exciting life, contrary to the boring one she currently has. It doesn't matter that the old man's life was one of low morals and unscrupulous actions, only that it was exciting and romantic, and Flaubert's intention is to depict him as a hero of society. Both of these examples are statements by Flaubert about poor people and rich people. Flaubert views leading a dull life as almost being a sin and instead glorifies self indulgence.

Flaubert detests the filthy members of the bourgeois; everything about their plain, drab existence repulses him so much to a point that both he and Emma essentially condemn them for their simplicity. Flaubert actually uses Charles to portray this kind of person throughout



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