MADAME BOVARYby Gustavo Flaubert and Translated by LydiaDavis
About Gustavo Flaubert● A French writer of the 2nd half of the19th century● Born on December 12, 1821 in RouenFrance and died on May 8, 1880 (at age58) in Rouen France● His father was a doctor● He was sent to Paris against his will tostudy law, thats when he started writing● He got ill and left law and Paris for hisdevotion to his writings● He had unusual relationships with 2women; Elisa Schlessinger, a married,older woman whom he met when he was15 and Louise Colet, a poet, who washis mistress between 1846 and 1854.She and Flaubert saw each other rarely,however continued communicatingthrough letters.
Madame Bovary● Gustavos first novel● Madame Bovary was published in February 1857● His inspiration for the book came from his affair with Louise Colet, who wassmart in literature and was a married woman. Their complicated relationship gaveFlaubert the inspiration to write Madame Bovary● He based some of his characters and events from the people he knew throughouthis life and attributed some of his own personality traits and values to EmmaBovary the character
Character List● Emma Bovary - the protagonist, educated in a country convent, married toCharles Bovary,○ She was unhappy about her marriage, fantasizes an idealistic marriage (ahusband who knows how to do everything, who treats his wife like an angel,comes home with gifts every night).○ She has a daughter named Berthe but lacks maternal instincts and is oftenannoyed with the child.○ Emma’s desire for passion and pleasure leads her into affairs with Rodolpheand Leon.○ Toward the end of the book, she runs up enormous debts against her husband’s property and commits suicide when she realizes she will be unable to repaythem.
Character List cont.● Charles Bovary: married to Emma Bovary after his first wife died, a countrydoctor whos kind but simple, dull, and ordinary.○ He is a terrible doctor who manages simple cases decently but is incapable ofperforming difficult operations.○ After he was married to Emma he devoted his love and time to her. Despitehis deep love for Emma, he doesnt understand her.○ Her looks and dress captivate him, but he remains oblivious to herpersonality.○ He fails to notice her affairs with Rodolphe and Leon, but the whole townknows about it.○ When Emma begins to have debts, he puts her in charge of all his property,an act that leads to his financial ruin.○ After Emma’s suicide, he learns of her infidelities and, soon after, dies as abroken man.
Character List cont.● Leon - Emma’s friend in Yonville, who later becomes her lover. When Leon is alaw clerk in Yonville, he falls in love with her but moves away to Paris to studylaw, partly because he considers their love impossible as long as she remainsmarried.● When Emma meets him later in Rouen, his time in the city has made him to befurther away from Emma and her feelings.● He now perceives Emma to be unsophisticated● Although Emma believes Leon is cosmopolitan, Flaubert presents him as awkwardand full of himself.● As a country girl, Emma is drawn to his newfound urban sophistication and beginsan affair with him. At first, they succeed in living up to one another’s romanticideals. However, as the affair progresses, Emma and Leon grow increasinglybored and disgusted with one another. He cannot help her when she is in financialdistress and makes excuses for failing to help her financially.● Leon leaves Emma and gets married shortly after her death.
Character List cont.Rodolphe Boulanger - Emma’s first lover, a wealthy landowner with an estate nearYonville. Rodolphe is selfish and manipulative. He has had many lovers and believesEmma to be no more sincere than any of them.○ He begins an affair with her, and then abandons her when he becomes boredof her romantic fancies and emotional demands.Monsieur Lheureux - A sly, evil merchant and moneylender in Yonville who leadsEmma into debt, financial ruin, and eventually suicide by playing on her weakness forluxury and extravagance. Monsieur tricks Emma into lending money from him andleaves her in debt.The elder Madame Bovary - A bitter, conservative woman who spoiled her sonCharles as a youth and disapproves of his marriage to Emma. She sees through Emma’slies and tries to get Charles to rein in his wife’s excessive spending, but she rarelysucceeds.
Justin - Homais’s assistant. Justin is young, impressionable, and simple. He fallsterribly in love with Emma and unwittingly gives her access to the arsenic that she usesto commit suicide.Heloise Dubuc - Charles’s first wife. She realizes that Charles is enamored withEmma. Soon after having this realization, she dies from the shock of having all herproperty stolen by her lawyer.
Significance● Considered the first realism book written● Depicts womens feelings at the time
Themes● The Powerlessness of women○ Emmas journey for passion● Suicide (Emma)○ b/c the pressure of male dominance in the society where her only way outbecomes adultery, eventually causing her to commit suicide
PassageRead and analyze these two passages from Madame Bovary andDeep in her soul, however, she was waiting for something to happen. Like a sailor in distress, she would gaze out overthe solitude of her life with desperate eyes, seeking some white sail in the mists of the far-off horizon. She did not knowwhat this chance event would be, what mind would drive it to her, what shore it would carry her to, whether it was alongboat or a three-decked vessel, loaded with anguish or filled with happiness up to the portholes. But each morning,when she awoke, she hoped it would arrive that day, she would listen to every sound, spring to her feet, feel surprisedthat it did not come; then, at sunset, always more sorrowful, she would wish the next day were already there.Spring returned. She had fits of breathlessness with the arrival of the first warm days, when the pear trees flowered.From early in July, she began to count on her fingers how many weeks remained to her before October, thinking theMarquis dAndervilliers would perhaps give another ball at La Vaubyessard. But all of September went by withoutletters or visitors.From Page 53 - 54, chapter 9