Depiction of Human Nature in Madame Bovary

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Madam Bovary : Style Analysis

The tone of this extract from Madam Bovary is gloomy and bitter. Emma Bovary is trapped in the hole of sadness which she makes no effort to escape. Her expectations of reality are too complex to be fulfilled in real life. So her ideas of perfect love and happiness are all fabricated and amount to nothing.

The author’s diction shows the depth of Emma’s suffering as well as her foolishness. She believes that her “melancholy” caused by Charles’s indifference “exasperated” her and that she can’t escape it but has to “clave” to it. The author makes it seems as if Emma is trapped in deep pain and is doomed. Suffering is part of life and can be resolved, but the author creates the image of an Emma who is foolishly and consciously holding onto her pain. She believes that she is “virtuous” and deserves “felicity” which is obstructed by Charles’s “ingratitude”. The irony from her beliefs in happiness arises when she thinks of committing adultery while claiming that she is simply escaping her boring husband. Although Charles is genuinely seeking Emma’s happiness, she stays blinded by her erroneous conception of “felicity” that she can’t treat others well. The author’s diction is depressing but since he acts detached from Emma, we cannot empathize with her, only contemplate her foolishness.

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The author’s detail reinforces Emma’s foolishness as she gets upset over every little thing, big or small. Things that are “half-opened” or “ill-served” in her house irritate her. If she were in someone else’s house then she might have a right to complain, but since she is in her own room, she is not allowed to. She is busy complaining about her life that she becomes lazy enough not to close a door or serve or self. She further believes that the “domestic mediocrity” from Charles caused her the “lusts of the flesh”. A house with a broken relationship can be fixed if both partners collaborate, but Emma hasn’t directly told her husband but expects him to somehow do something. And ironically she wants to further destroy their relationship by having an affair with someone. The author’s careful and meticulous detail show the extent of Emma’s foolishness and her pride.

The third-person omniscient point of view highlights the narrator’s mockery of Emma’s choices. While noting that Emma “had loathing of this hypocrisy”, the narrator contradictory asks “For whose sake, then was she virtuous?” The narrator accurately reflects Emma’s attitude toward her hypocrisy. But by asking a question with no answer, he immediately detaches himself from her. He continues mocking her by saying, “Her[Emma] own gentleness to herself made her rebel against him” and that “What exasperated her was that Charles did not seem to notice her anguish”. Emma believes that Charles is the one responsible for her pain, but the author believes otherwise. He asks rhetorical questions and affirm things that make us realize Emma’s foolishness in complaining but taking no concrete action. The third person point of view only describes the character’s feelings without directly influencing our opinions of them; this allows us to realize the deeper meaning of the work.

The organization of this short passage moves from introductory, to blaming, and then finally to bitter. The first section of the passage sets the stage for our analysis Emma and her complex nature. She is perceived as an arrogant and foolish person who wants her expectations of life to be fulfilled in reality . The next portion then introduces Emma’s scapegoat for all her troubles, Charles Bovary. She believes that he is at fault for everything since he does not meet her expectations of a ‘real’ husband, and she keeps blaming him for the drift that’s beginning to show in their relationship. This ever growing drift which Emma doesn’t want to close leads to the bitter tone of the last section. She expects the situation to progress and become better on its own, just like in novels. This pattern is also repeated throughout the book which shows how much time the author dedicated to his work.

Flaubert’s novel carefully analyzes the complexity and psychology of human nature in their interpretation of reality. He uses a beautiful and elegant language to convey Emma’s state of mind and thought process which allows the reader to draw inspiring life lessons.

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