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Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  ·  Madame Bovary

author  · Gustave Flaubert

type of work  · Novel

genre ·  Realist fiction

language  ·  French

time and place written  · Croisset, France; 1851–1857

date of first publication  ·  1857

publisher  ·  Revue de Paris

narrator  · In the first chapter, Charles’s classmates narrate as a first-person plural “we.” It is unclear whether one person or the whole class is speaking. For the rest of the novel, an omniscient third-person narrator tells the story. Although the narrator appears to be objective, he often makes his opinion felt, especially regarding the ridiculous attempts of his characters’ efforts to appear sophisticated.

point of view  · The first chapter is told from the perspective of one or all of Charles Bovary’s schoolfellows. After that, we see the world through Charles’s eyes momentarily before being introduced to Emma. The bulk of the novel recounts events as she experiences them, though always in the third person and sometimes giving us a brief glimpse into someone else’s mind. Despite the fact that the narrator limits most of his attention to Emma, however, there is a fairly even mix of objective observations of her behavior and subjective accounts of her thoughts and feelings. Flaubert also often uses free indirect discourse, the narrative integration of thoughts and feelings without quotation marks or attribution, to show what his characters are thinking. After Emma’s death, the narration is mostly objective.

tone · Flaubert’s attitude toward his story and his heroine is evenly divided between sympathy and ironic contempt. We know that he identified strongly with his heroine because he once said “Madame Bovary is me.” His sympathy for her is evident in the way he describes her passions and the circumstances that conspire against her. He is also, however, very much aware of how ridiculous attempts at sophistication by members of the bourgeoisie can be, and he portrays many of his characters as foolish, ridiculous and grotesque.

tense · Simple past

setting (time) · The mid-1800s

setting (place)  · France, including the towns of Tostes, Yonville, and Rouen

protagonist  · Emma Bovary

major conflict  · Emma wishes for romantic love, wealth, and social status that she cannot attain because she is married to a middle-class doctor.

rising action  · Emma begins borrowing money to pay for gifts for her first lover, Rodolphe. When he leaves her, she falls ill, and her husband, Charles, borrows even more money to pay for her care. Emma must now borrow more and more to pay off her debts and to indulge her extravagant tastes. She takes a second lover, Leon, but he soon grows tired of her.

climax  · Emma’s primary creditor, Lheureux, insists that she pay him back and obtains a court order to seize all her property.

falling action  · Driven to despair, Emma seeks financial help everywhere, but can find none; she eats a handful of arsenic and dies. After Emma’s death, Charles loses everything. He finds out about his wife’s infidelities and dies a broken man. Emma’s daughter, Berthe, is sent to work in a cotton mill.

themes  · The inadequacy of language; the powerlessness of women; the shortcomings of the bourgeois class

motifs  · Death and illness, windows, eating

symbols  · The blind beggar, dried flowers, the lathe

foreshadowing  · Emma’s financial ruin is foreshadowed as early as the novel’s first chapter, when Flaubert introduces the danger of poorly handled finances by describing the incompetent money management of Charles’ family members. The appearance of Lheureux, coupled with his early efforts to tempt Emma, foreshadows the eventual nature of her downfall: she will get herself further and further into debt with the moneylender. Emma’s romantic disappointments are foreshadowed as well; with both Rodolphe and Leon, we see early on that their feelings for Emma are neither as strong nor as durable as she might wish. Finally, the arsenic with which Emma commits suicide is shown to us six chapters before she ends her life.

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Essay- Evolutionary Perspective

by Celestial-moon-fire, March 20, 2013

Emma's behaviour could be explored as an effect of sexual selection, which is a form of selection that drives Evolution. Similar to Peacocks, where teh females choose the most attractive mate for reproduction, Emma wants a more attractive and intresting man to pass on her genetic inheritance.

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Discuss the themes of the novel Madame Bovary.

by touhidsm, May 06, 2014

Read the full answer at >>>

http://josbd.com/Madame_Bovary.html

and

http://josbd.com/English.html

Theme is one of the most important issues in a literary composition that conveys some universal ideas and truth. Here in the novel titled “Madame Bovary”, written by a French novelist, Gustave Flaubert, there are several dominating themes. The themes, the inadequacy of expression, the powerles... Read more

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Character of Emma Bovary:

by touhidsm, May 06, 2014

Read the full answer at

http://josbd.com/Emma_Bovary.html


Madame Bovary is a French novel in English written by Gustave Flaubert. In this novel, Emma Bovary is the protagonist whose tragic downfall is caused by the romantic sentimentalism in her life. The sentimentalism is so powerful that she cannot come out of it. Her character is being nicely described below.

Emma's early life influenced her entire approach to life. She was born with a natural tendency t... Read more

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