The Novel 100 ~ Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, is one of the most important French novels of the 19th century.  It is the story of Emma Bovary, an unhappily married woman who seeks escape through forbidden relationships with other men.  Gustave Flaubert seems to justify her adultery by painting her marriage as dull and lifeless.  Emma seems happy in her transgressions but  I found myself disliking her intensely.  Instead, my heart went out to her faithful and devoted husband who was wholly devoted to her happiness and adored her immensely.  He reminded me of my daughter’s golden retriever.

Madame Bovary’s indiscretions and obsessions with romantic idealism lead to her downfall which appeased my moral objections to her behavior.  All in all the novel evoked strong emotions from me which, to me, is a sign of a well-written book.  I would much rather feel emotions on all levels and be left contemplating life.

If I could share a cup of tea with Emma Bovary I would tell her she needed to be content with her circumstances.  I would then offer her the following advice:

  • Never allow yourself to complain about anything
  • Never picture yourself in any other circumstance or someplace else
  • Never compare your lot with another’s
  • Never allow yourself to wish this or that had been otherwise

I know these ‘nevers’ are seemingly impossible but how often to we think the grass is greener on the other side and when we cross over find that it is not?

Contentment is a matter of the heart for……….

Two women looked through prison bars

one saw mud, the other saw stars.

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2 thoughts on “The Novel 100 ~ Madame Bovary

    • I got upset with Emma too. I also got upset with Anna Karenina, although it is still my favorite book. I really like the points you made about contentment. Still, I do think that your “nevers? are too high a goal. I have a wonderful husband of 37 years, but at times I let my imagination conjure up scenarios. It just made me appreciate him more, and of course I never acted on them.

      I was going to do peaches this summer too. There is still time, and then raspberries in September.
      Cheers,
      Kathy

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