Books and Movies Reviews

Flauberts Madame Bovary: Depicts the Unfulfilling Roles of Women in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Gustave Flaubert’s novel, Madame Bovary, is important because it
operates on many levels.While modern readers may appreciate Emma’s
Bovary’s plight, it is also important to understand how the novel was
received to gain a greater understanding of its significance.The novel
was thefirst of kind in that it was what has now become known as a realist
novel.It depicts the unfulfilling roles of women in the mid-nineteenth
century and, as a result, criticized the bourgeois society in general.
Flaubert was condemned for his novel by a society that was absorbed in
morality.However, his great achievement is pinpointing human desires
through the character of Emma and presenting them in a realistic setting
that does not condemn or condone them.
Literature of the mid-nineteenth century was largely a product of
romantic notions.Flaubert said that by writing Madame Bovary, he was
“exorcising the romantic demons that hover about literature” (Russell 8).
His style focuses instead on more realistic and natural aspects of
humanity.In fact, Ernest Boyd, in his essay “Flaubert and French
Realism,” notes that Flaubert is “generally accepted as the father of the
realistic novel” (Boyd).This fact indicates that society was not
accustomed to strong, independent women who felt desire and often acted
impulsively.In short, the French society was shocked at Emma’s behavior.
Tony Williams notes, “Madame Bovary was put on trial when it wasfirst
published largely on account of its intense critical interrogation of the
assumptions that collectively make up the common-sense outlook on life in
nineteenth-century France. The subversive force of the novel is directed
most obviously against that cornerstone of bourgeois society, marriage”
(Williams).If any character represents a selfish inclination toward
happiness outside the confines of marriage, it is Emma Bovary.This type
of character wa…

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