For daring to peer into the heart of an adulteress and enumerate its contents with profound dispassion, the author of Madame Bovary was tried for “offenses against morality and religion”.
Because the back cover left little to be desired, basically, Madame Bovary focuses on a doctor’s wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the emptiness of provincial life.
I have to say that, at first, I really liked Emma, the “heroine” of Madame Bovary. She married the first man to come around, and later realized her mistake. She’s obsessed with the idea of love, but is unable to realize how much her husband, Charles, loves her. And her need to maintain her lifestyle has her spending more than Charles earns, much like our society today.
And I particularly enjoyed Flaubert’s prose, his entwining of commonplace details and with observations, and his interesting commentaries on religion. Flaubert’s dialogue is also much easier to understand than I expected, especially due to the time period the book was printed in.
However, by the third, and final, part of Madame Bovary I came to hate Emma. Her romantic ideals remind of some of my teenage friends and classmates’ ideas: absurd, unattainable, and downright clingy. She needs someone to love her and pay attention to her twenty-four hours a day, and the only person who comes close to doing so is her husband, whom she cannot stand.
“As for Emma, she never tried to find out whether she was in love with him. Love, to her, was something hat comes suddenly, like a blinding flash of lightening – a heaven-sent storm hurled into life, uprooting it, sweeping eery will before it like a leaf, engulfing all feelings.” (pg. 119)
Unfortunately, Flaubert’s writing style become boring and I had to force myself to trudge through the last twenty pages until the conclusion, which captured my attention again.
- Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Translated from French by Francis Steegmuller. New York: Vintage, 1991. Originally published 1856. Print. 411 pgs. ISBN: 0679736360. Source: Library.