Madame Bovary In Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Emma Bovary is a victim of her own foolish disposition, and fueled by her need for change. Emma's nonstop waiting for excitement to enter into her life and her romantic nature eventually lead her to a much more realistic ending than in her romantic illusions. All of these things, with the addition of her constant wavering of one extreme to another, contribute to her suicide in the end. Throughout the story, Emma's foolishness and mood fluctuations lead to the eventual breakdown of her stability in life. In the beginning of the story, Emma has a desire to change around the house. A popular view on this aspect is that Emma experiences a stroke of individuality.
I think the action is actually the first taste the reader gets of her incessant need for change. With every change that Emma makes, she tries to find the happiness she desires so much. An example of Emma's fluctuation of moods is after Leon's departure. Once he left, to deem herself from the lack of love toward her husband, Emma transformed into the model wife. She would go from constantly thinking about another man, to another woman that no one would even dare think about accusing of considering adultery. I think that in her variability of moods, Emma is simply lost in her desire.
The contrast between her romantic illusions and the realities of society create a condition in which she has no control over her emotions. Regardless of Emma's search for eternal passion, the dullness of her thoughts and inability to move past this dream prevent her from developing into a round character. Flaubert accentuates this point by displaying Emma's romantic struggles with Charles, Leon, and Rodolphe. Through this, Emma ultimately creates a scornful caution against living her life through a novel. While in her physical state during pregnancy in which she was 'filling out over her un corseted hips' (Flaubert 62), Emma creates a contrast to the flatness of 'her affection' for her baby which' was perhaps impaired from the start' (Flaubert 63).
This is another example of Emma's imprudence, in that she particularly wanted a boy, because she thought that with it would come along new and exciting experiences and challenges. Upon the child's arrival and realization of the female gender, she quickly lost all interest in the child. This part of the novel in particular bothers me. Purely based on the fact that Emma desires to live in her romantic fantasy world, she cannot accept the reality of what occurs in real life. A woman who can simply lose all interest in her child based on gender has serious emotional problems, and Emma is the case in point. Though Emma's inability to interpret the emotional gravity of new life and the potential for new love suggests a deficit in her reading of life, Flaubert entails that Emma has a natural disability in appropriate expression.
A person would think that such a suggestion would create sympathy for Emma. However, when she is aspiring to be 'the mistress of all the novels, the heroine of all the dramas, the vague she of all volumes of verse' (Flaubert 192), I do not think that sympathy is deserved. When Emma decided to go see the priest at the church in search of some spiritual guidance, another instance of her gullibility is expressed. Upon arriving, the priest does not seem to respect her pious needs, and quickly assumes that all she needs is a cup of tea and sends her on her way. As Emma returned home, her daughter acted as if to comfort Emma. In spite of this, Emma simply declines while pushing her away and scolding the child to keep her distance.
Apparently unaware of the strength she applies, Emma pushes her daughter so hard that the girl falls and injures her head upon impact. In reaction, Emma cries and screams worriedly for the girl. This response appears a little off base, seeming as though she actually cared for the child, and Emma acts as if the child did it herself. This instance, in addition to the way she deals with her husband, shows how unstable Emma's emotions are and clearly display what contributes to her suicide. I think it is clear that Emma's emotions get the best of her in any difficult situation she encounters. Due to this fact, in any situation it is almost sure that she will lose control and do something rash.
I believe this also infers that as these instances constantly occur, Emma's condition will continue to be unrestrained and eventually push her to the breaking point. Flaubert depicts Emma's romantic nature again at Charles and Emma's wedding. When she tells Charles that she would have rather had the wedding by torchlight, the statement gives insight to the readers about her character. It says that Emma has a yearning for things that are exciting, new and different from the dull normal world in which she lives in.
Once again Emma's romantic illusions come into view, and I think it is obvious that she simply has no distinction between her dreams and the real world. In closing, Emma Bovary's character consistently supports the recurring theme of the shattering of romantic illusions in this novel. She cannot reconcile her passionate romanticism with reality. Emma enters into adulterous relationships to fulfill her unrealistic desires, and maintains a fashionable lifestyle in keeping with the life described in the books she has read. In the end, her suicide is an outcome of her withdrawal from reality. Emma just cannot come to grips with the fact that she could be a failure, and she refuses to admit that she possesses an impractical romantic perspective on life.
In this theme, we can see that Emma's suicide is an escape from the world she is a part of, and highlights her inability to determine dreams from reality. WORKS CITED Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. New York: Bantam, 1959.