Madame Bovary


Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary takes place in Tostes and Yonville in the middle of the nineteenth century and examines the Petite Bourgeois society of southern, rural France. Emma, the protagonist, marries Dr. Charles Bovary and settles in Tostes. At first, she is excited and pleased with her marriage, but because of her superficial romantic ideals, she soon becomes bored and disillusioned by her new life, and, as a result, becomes ill. Dr. Bovary decided to move to Yonville in hope that Emma's health will improve. Madame Bovary's unhappiness continues until she meets Leon, a young law clerk and Rodolphe, a decadent aristocrat, and has an adulterous affair with each. During this time, Emma spends Charles' money freely and incurs many debts. She keeps these secrets from Bovary and manages to gain Power of Attorney so she can have full access over all their financial affairs. Eventually, Emma's unpaid bills become overdue and her creditors put a judgement against her. Emma tries to raise enough money to pay the bills and even resorts to Rodolphe and Leon for help, not neither are willing to aid her. Out of shame, Emma poisons herself and suffers a painful death. Shortly afterward, Charles dies. Emma searches for "happiness, passion, and intoxication" (55) because she cannot accept her status in the Petite Bourgeois society. First, through her affair with Rodolphe, and then Leon, Emma tries to escape the rural dullness of her life, but ultimately fails.
Madame Bovary's affair with Rodolphe is an attempt to escape the dullness of her life. For example, after Leon deserts Emma, she falls into a period of mourning. She dreams about Leon and the many romanticized conversations they shared. But, one day Rodolphe brings one of his servant s to be treated by Dr. Bovary, and Emma immediately becomes infatuated with Rodolphe. At the Agricultural Show, Rodolphe plots to seduce Emma and successfully achieves his goal. Emma is infatuated with Rodolphe because she feels that Rodolphe can provide her the happiness and excitement that Charles cannot. Emma plans to leave Yonville with Rodolphe in order to find excitement in her life, but he decides not to. Rodolphe leads Emma on the entire time; thus, Emma fails to obtain happiness and escape the dullness of her life.
Secondly, Madame Bovary tries to escape the dullness of her life through an affair with young Leon. When Emma first meets Leon she becomes fascinated with Leon's mind. They share the same romanticized views and read the same sentimental novels. However, Leon deserts Emma to attend law school. She later, after having an affair with Rodolphe, encounters Leon in Rouen and has an adulterous affair with him. Emma uses Leon to in place of Rodolphe. Emma's affair with Leon does not last because she poisons herself. Emma tries to escape the dullness of her life by having an affair with Leon because she feels that he will be able to give her a higher ranking in society but ultimately fails.
In conclusion, Madame Bovary searches for "happiness, passion, and intoxication" (55) because she cannot accept her status in the Petite Bourgeois society. First, through her affair with Rodolphe, a decadent aristocrat, and then Leon, a young law clerk, Emma tries to escape the rural dullness of her life but ultimately fails. Emma is unable to achieve this because she incurs too many debts, and in shame poisons herself.