The centre of the novel is the character Emma Bovary, but the French author Gustave Flaubert also emphasized his social critic towards the life in French provinces in the 19th century. The themes of the novel are marriage and adultery.
By characterizing his characters, Flaubert made a new concept called bovarism defined as people’s tendency to consider themselves different than they actually are and believe, like Emma, that they are made from another destiny.
The novel is divided into three parts whose limits are the crisis of the main character. The first part offers us the life of Emma and Charles before the weeding. After that their dull marriage life is described to us and that was what made Emma unhappy.
The previously mentioned dullness is the first reason of Emma’s crisis that ended in their moving to another place. Despite the moving Emma was still a slave of a petty province and her only escape was adultery.
After she experienced disappointment with her first lover Emma goes through a new crisis that results in another moving to Ruen where she encounters her second lover. After each crisis Emma sank lower and lower into financial debts and psychic instability.
Unlike other novels that contain dynamic this novel is pretty static in showing the life of a woman fighting boredom and limitations. Unlike Balzac that set the plot of his novels mostly in Paris, Flaubert picked the province.
The novel was published in 1856 and even thought today we see nothing incriminating in it, the society back then started to debate about the novel and Flaubert ended in court.
The court, plaintiff and the defense agreed on one thing – literature plays an important role in everyday life. The breaking point was the influence that literature can have on the life of an ordinary human.
While the plaintiff insisted on mentioning how the novel can have a negative influence on the youth, the defense focused on separating the author and the storyteller that is, the reality and the imaginary story. The plaintiff considered the novel to be an insult to the public and religious moral and an attempt to justify the main character’s adultery.
The novel starts with Charles Bovary. Because of his mother’s persistence he manages to finish high school and becomes a doctor. After he was hired in a place nearby his mother imposed a future wife upon him. He married a woman that constantly complained about chest pains and lack of attention.
After some time Charles’ mother that is a know-it-all starts a fight with her daughter-in-law and Charles’ wife dies from a heart attack. A man from an estate breaks his leg and Charles goes to take care of him. As time passes by he becomes their regular guest due to the man’s daughter Emma.
Charles asked Emma to marry him and she accepts. She tried to satisfy him in every way, takes care of the house and enjoys the married life. In spite all of it Emma realizes she isn’t happy anymore. She used to live in a convent and she was overthrown by the love novels she used to read and she expected her life to be like one of those novels. She didn’t like living in the province either. She wanted excitement, passion and she got a dull marriage.
On one occasion marquis d’Andervilliers needed Charles’ favor in his castle and while he was paying the bill he met Emma and was left astonished with her elegance. He invited the couple to a ball. Emma enjoyed the ball and while she was surrounded with nobility she felt ashamed of Charles.
After the ball Emma thinks about how hard her life is next to Charles. She neglected all of her duties. Her looks and health were also suffering because of her state of mind. She began to look pale, got dizzy often and felt her heart beating fast. Charles moved with Emma to a bigger province called Yonville-l’Abbeye. Emma also found out she was pregnant.
In the new town they’ve met a pharmacist Homais who’s interested in Charles prescribing his medications. They also met a lawyer Leon Dupuis. Emma had numerous interesting conversations with him that she never had with Charles. Soon she gave birth to a little girl called Berte.
Leone admired Emma and fell in love with her. She was also popular in the society because of her saving, successful house management and her taking care of the poor and ill.
Emma becomes more and more dissatisfied and she looks for comfort in the church but it was pointless. Leon moved to Paris and gave up on Emma because he considered her to be unreachable. Emma’s mother-in-law forbids her from reading her love novels because she thought they had a bad influence on her.
Emma accidentally meets Rodolphe Boulanger and they fall in love. Soon they became lovers and Emma is overthrown with him. Charles even bouht her a horse so she can go riding with Rodolphe because he didn’t even doubt her. Emma’s conscious doesn’t leave her alone and she starts thinking about how better it would be if she was in love with her husband. It all starts happening because Rodolph stops trying to win her over and she doesn’t feel the thrill she used to feel in the beginning.
She got disappointed in Charles after a failed surgery so she goes running back to Rodolph. She doesn’t hide her love and becomes the main gossip. Emma started arranging her runaway with her lover and daughter.
Rodolphe changed his mind in the last second and in a letter he explained to her that it was destiny’s fault. Emma gets ill and spends 43 day in fever. Charles had money problems because Emma was spending it everywhere. Emma starts to recover but instead of committing herself to her family she commits entirely to God.
Charles takes her to Paris where she encounters Leone again. Charles leaves them alone and soon after Emma started seeing Leone. She got out of control and Leone concluded that he can’t keep up with her rhythm.
Emma goes deeper into debts and she can’t pay them off. No one wants to help her so she took some arsenic from the pharmacist’s storage. She wrote a letter to Charles and when he realized what was happening Emma died.
Charles begins to realize what she had done but holds no grudges. He starts going to waste and in the end he dies. His daughter found him dead. Berte lived with her grandmother and after her death at her aunt’s that found her a job in a cotton factory.
Place: city Jefferson
Author: Gustave Flaubert
Main Characters: Emma Bovary, Charles Bovary, Leone Dupuis, Rodolphe Boulanger, Justine
Emma Bovary is the main character whose life expectations were influenced by the novels she had read. Emma is described a s a naïve woman made a victim by her character. A struggle between the real life and the romantic novels was constantly taking place inside of her.
Unfortunately she lived by the unreachable ideals that came out of the novels and in the end she committed suicide. Emma married expecting passion about which she read so much but when she realized it wasn’t going to happen she tried to satisfy herself by taking care of her husband and the household.
After she went to a ball she realized what she actually wanted and how miserable she was in her marriage. She enjoyed Leone’s attention because finally she had some romance in her life. When he left hatred crawled into her life and she started regretting not starting a relationship with Leone. Because of that Rodolphe didn’t take long to win her over.
After a few passionate moments with her lover Emma got ill when she realized what she had done. She settled down with the life with her husband but when her old love Leone came back into her life she started thinking about finding happiness as far away from her marriage as possible. She tried to compensate for the romantic she didn’t have with luxury but when she was at the verge of financial breakdown she took her own life away by poisoning herself.
Charles Bovary is described as a character we should have pity for because he is a bit pathetic. He is a person that’s happy with small things, neither overly ambitious nor intelligent and he loves to live in his ignorance.
When he met Emma he was over 30 and with a marriage behind him. He was a widower and wanted to find himself a new wife. He adored Emma and their child.
He wasn’t critical towards Emma’s desires but he got sad when his mother and wife fought. In the end Charles was a victim because of his love for his wife, lack of courage to do something and other people’s manipulation.
He was average in everything but he wasn’t aware of that for a long time. Years of studying were hard for him because he had to master some hard skills and all he dreamed about was living in the village. After he was done with school he went back to the village and his mother made him marry and elderly woman that suffered from tuberculosis. After two years the first wife died and then he met Emma.
Charles wasn’t a bad person because as a husband and doctor he tried to be good. Despite his honesty and good intentions he was one of the responsible for Emma’s destruction.
The problem between Emma and Charles was that she offered a lot and he didn’t demand much. He was satisfied with little things and he was happy. As time passed by Emma felt contempt for her husband because she couldn’t stand such an ordinary husband.
Leone Dupuis was an intern at a law office and at first sight he fell in love with Emma. He didn’t have enough courage to reveal his feelings because she was married.
He had blue eyes, elegance and a kind nature. Since he didn’t believe he’ll accomplish his dreams he went to Pairs to continue his studies but when he returned he wasn’t a boy anymore but a real man who knew what he wanted.
He decided to confess his feeling for Emma after which they started a relationship. He received her expensive gifts all the time and unlike Emma that spend money she didn’t have Leone spend his money carefully. Even though his experience in Paris changed him it didn’t make him a bad person so he declined Emma’s proposal to take money out of the office he worked in.
Leone wasn’t ready to let a relationship spoil his career so he decided not to show up on an arranged meeting. He felt relieved rather than guilty.
Rodolphe Boulanger is an owner of an estate La Huchette and a nobleman with a great dose of self esteem and Emma’s first lover. He is described as a complex person that is careful, calculated, passionate and pushy at the same time.
It didn’t take him long to win Emma over and he was surprised at her naivety. He never loved her and he only used her to have a good time. He enjoyed the thrill of forbidden kisses but soon everything became boring to him. After things got cold between them Rodolphe got a rush of passion and wanted to run away with Emma.
His cold temper stopped him from doing it so he left Emma before their big escape. He couldn’t commit to her and her daughter and the relationship was good for him as long as she demanded for nothing.
Despite his coldness he had zero strength to tell Emma the truth but instead he send her a letter filled with empty words and phrases. When they saw each other again Emma asked for money he gave her nothing but false promises. When he heard she had poisoned herself he felt nothing and kept on living his life.
Justine was adopted by Homais and he is a side character who observes the plot but despite the fact that he isn’t the main character he was always present.
He wasn’t Emma’s servant but he washed her laundry and pleased her every wish even though she wasn’t aware of it. He had Emma’s love letters and knew everything that was going on with his worshiped madam.
He enjoyed her closeness and he was the only person that loved her truly. Since he wasn’t able to stop her death he went to her grave every day to mourn and soon he moved to Rouen.