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Discuss the themes of the novel Madame Bovary.

by touhidsm, May 06, 2014

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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 powerlessness of women, the disease of romanticism and the failure of Bourgeoisies, are recurring. They have been elucidated one by one below.

In “Madame Bovary” Gustave Flaubert shows how language is often an inadequate medium for expressing emotions and ideas. The characters’ frequent inability to communicate with one another is emblematic of the fact that words do not perfectly describe what they signify. For example, in chapter one Charles’ teacher thinks that he says his name ‘Charbovari’. Again the inadequacy is expressed through Emma repeatedly in the novel. For example, when she tries to express her love to Rodolphe or when she wants her distress known to the priest.

Emma Bovary always hopes for a baby boy as ‘a woman is always hampered’. Throughout “Madame Bovary” Emma’s male companions possess the power to change her life for better or worse - a power she herself lacks. Even Charles contributes to Emma’s powerlessness. His laziness prevents him from becoming a good doctor and his incompetence prevents him from advancing into a higher social class that might satisfy Emma’s yearnings. As a result, Emma is stuck in a country town without much money and fantasy. Again Rodolphe possesses the financial power to take Emma away from her life with Charles but Emma, as a woman, is incapable of fleeing on her own. When Leon Dupuis being discontent, moved to a city, Emma is shackled to a husband or a child.


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