“One’s duty is to feel what is great, cherish the beautiful, and to not accept the conventions of society with the ignominy that it imposes upon us”.

Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |French Novel| Charles Bovary
Cover Page of ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert

‘Madame Bovary’ is a novel ๐Ÿ“– written โœ๏ธ by Gustave Flaubert. ‘Madame Bovary’ is the debut novel of this French writer and it was published in a serialised manner ๐Ÿ“” in ‘Revue de Paris’, a literary French magazine between 1 October 1856 ๐Ÿ“… and 15 December 1856. ‘Madame Bovary’ was controversial, being attacked ๐Ÿ‘Š๐Ÿผ by many public prosecutors ๐Ÿ‘จโ€โš–๏ธ for the obscenity of multiple affairs in it.

Charles Bovary

Charles Bovary lives in the town ๐Ÿ™๏ธ of Rouen, Normandy, in the provincial Northern France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท. ‘Madame Bovary’ opens in the teenage life of Charles, a shy boy ๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿป ridiculed by his classmates for his odd dressing sense ๐Ÿ‘•. He attains a medical degree ๐Ÿ“ƒ and starts working in the Public Health Service ๐Ÿ’‰as an Officier de santรฉ ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€โš•๏ธ, a medical practitioner without the title of the doctor of medicine ๐Ÿ’Š. He shifts to Tรดtes, a village to practise medicine ๐Ÿ’Š after his marriage with a rich widow named Hรฉloรฏse Dubuc, chosen by his mother ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿป. Even though he was unhappy ๐Ÿ˜’ with her decision, he obeys his mother ๐Ÿ™‚.

Emma Rouault

“What better occupation, really, than to spend the evening at the fireside with a book, with the wind beating on the windows and the lamp burning bright…Haven’t you ever happened to come across in a book some vague notion that you’ve had, some obscure idea that returns from afar and that seems to express completely your most subtle feelings?”

Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review | French Novel
Emma Rouault

Charles is attracted ๐Ÿฅฐ to Emma Rouault, a beautifully dressed woman ๐Ÿ‘— met by him during a visit to his patient ๐Ÿ˜Š. He learns that it is his patient’s daughter and visits him often ๐Ÿ˜. His patient was a farm owner ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐ŸŒพ and had his leg broken ๐Ÿฆถ๐Ÿป. Charles learns that she was well educated ๐Ÿ“” from a convent and has good poetical sense ๐Ÿง  which she attained by reading ๐Ÿ“– all of the popular romantic novels ๐Ÿ“š.

“She looked extraordinarily beautiful to him, and majestic as a phantom; without understanding what she wanted, he had a foreboding of something terrible”.

Madame Bovary

Hรฉloรฏse Dies โšฐ๏ธ

His wife finds the reason for his repeated ๐Ÿคจ visits to his patient and ends it as she felt jealous ๐Ÿ˜ฌ. But Hรฉloรฏse dies unexpectedly โšฐ๏ธ. Charles, who was tied in his unhappy marriage ๐Ÿ˜” did not run to Emma to express his love ๐Ÿฅฐ, instead to a good break before courting her โ˜บ๏ธ. He asks her father for his consent to marry her ๐Ÿ˜Œ, he permits ๐Ÿค—, Charles and Emma gets married ๐Ÿ‘ฐ๐Ÿผ ๐Ÿคต๐Ÿป.

At Yonville

“The universe, for him, did not extend beyond the silken round of her skirts”.

Narrator |Part 1, Chapter 5
Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review | French Novel
Marriage of Emma and Charles

The novel ๐Ÿ“– from now has its focus on Emma, who is addressed and known as Madame Bovary ๐Ÿ™‚. Their marriage ๐Ÿ’ was going well in the initial days but Emma finds it boring ๐Ÿ˜ after a period of time. She lives in a world of fantasy ๐ŸŒ through the books ๐Ÿ“— that she reads. Charles and Emma attend a ball ๐ŸŽ‰ organised by Marquis d’Andervilliers. Nothing social changes her mind ๐Ÿ˜ถ. Charles moves to the Yonville town for his medical ๐Ÿ˜ท practice thinking that his wife needs a change ๐Ÿค—.

“But it was above all at mealtimes that she could bear it no longer, in that little room on the ground floor, with the smoking stove, the creaking door, the oozing walls, the damp floor-tiles; all the bitterness of life seemed to be served to her on her plate, and, with the steam from the boiled beef, there rose from the depths of her soul other exhalations as it were of disgust. Charles was a slow eater; she would nibble a few hazel-nuts, or else, leaning on her elbow, would amuse herself making marks on the oilcloth with the point of her table-knife”.

Madame Bovary

Berthe ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป

“Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished that, taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away to regions of purity, and there grow young again”.

Madame Bovary

She becomes pregnant ๐Ÿคฐ๐Ÿผ and gives birth to a daughter ๐Ÿ‘ถ๐Ÿป, who is named as Berthe. But neither her pregnancy ๐Ÿคฐ๐Ÿผ nor her motherhood ๐Ÿคฑ๐Ÿผ rescues her from her boredom and despair ๐Ÿ˜–. Emma was gettimg more and more depressed ๐Ÿ˜ž. Being a depressed mother was giving her a hard time โฒ๏ธ.

“She wanted a son; he would be strong and dark, she would call him George; and this idea of having a male child was like an anticipated revenge for the powerlessness of her past. A man, at least, is free; he can explore each passion and every kingdom, conquer obstacles, feast upon the most exotic pleasures. But a woman is continually thwarted”.

Part II| Chapter 3

Lรฉon Dupuis

“Love, she thought, must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings,–a hurricane of the skies, which falls upon life, revolutionises it, roots up the will like a leaf, and sweeps the whole heart into the abyss”.

Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review |French Novel
Emma and Lรฉon in the novel ‘Madame Bovary’

It was during her depressed ๐Ÿ˜ฉ state, she meets ๐Ÿค with Lรฉon Dupuis from Yonville. He becomes her comfort zone ๐Ÿค—. Their similar tastes in art ๐ŸŽจ help them build a good relationship. Lรฉon, even being law student ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€๐ŸŽ“ understands praises and appreciates ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป for her taste in music ๐ŸŽถ and literature ๐Ÿ“. Her love โค๏ธ for literature makes her live in a world ๐ŸŒ of fantasy.

The Conflict

Emma was so much in love ๐Ÿ˜ with Lรฉon Dupuis. But she served the position of a wife and a mother ๐Ÿ™„. A conflict โš”๏ธ was going through her mind ๐Ÿง . The thought of her damaged reputation ๐Ÿ˜• in the society haunted her ๐Ÿ˜ข. Therefore, she tries to prevent her from falling more for Lรฉon ๐Ÿ˜’. She had to hide ๐Ÿ˜‘ her love for Lรฉon, at the same time the contempt ๐Ÿ™„ that she had for Charles. Lรฉon, who was rejected ๐Ÿ˜” by Emma leaves to pursue ๐Ÿงณ his studies in law โš– in Paris.

Rodolphe Boulanger

“Beautiful teeth, black eyes, dainty feet, and graceful as a Parisian. How the devil did she get here? How did such a clumsy oaf ever get a wife like that?”

Rodolphe Boulanger| Madam Bovary
Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review
Rodolphe Boulanger and Emma in ‘Madame Bovary’

Rodolphe Boulanger, a rich landowner ๐Ÿœ๏ธ brings his servant to Charles for bloodletting ๐Ÿ’‰, a medical treatment to prevent illness by letting out blood and other body fluids. Rodolphe sees Emma and gets attracted to her ๐Ÿฅฐ, he also believes that he can easily make her fall for him ๐Ÿ˜Œ. Rodolphe had lust ๐Ÿ˜˜ for her and not love ๐Ÿฅฐ. He asks Charles to let her out for rides ๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿผ with him to improve her health.

Love or Lust ๐Ÿคจ

Charles being cautious ๐Ÿค— about his wifeโ€™s healtg permits for the ride ๐Ÿ‡๐Ÿผ with suspecting him nor his wife ๐Ÿ™‚. But they start a relationship ๐Ÿฅฐ, sends letters โœ‰๏ธ and visits him often ๐Ÿ’. Their romance actually blinds her ๐Ÿ˜‡. She demands ๐Ÿ˜Œ to run away from the place after indulging in a four year secret affair.

Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review | Charles Bovary |Emma Rouault |French Novel
Emma falls ill

But Rodolphe, who was against this doesn’t join her to execute this plan ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ. He instead send her a basket ๐Ÿงบ of apricots ๐Ÿ‘ with letter โœ‰๏ธ hidden at the bottom apologising for not accompanying her ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป. But this was a shock ๐Ÿ˜ฑ to Emma enough to make her fall ill ๐Ÿค•. She who lived in the fantasy world of art turns to religion โœ๏ธ.

Lรฉon is Back

Charles takes Emma to an opera ๐ŸŸ๏ธ in Rouen after her recovery. They were performing ๐ŸŽญ a three act tragic opera, ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’ by Gaetano Donizetti which was entirely based on a historical novel ๐Ÿ“‘ by Walter Scott, ‘The Bride of Lammermoor’, published in 1819 ๐Ÿ“†. But this opera again changes her life as she meets Lรฉon again ๐Ÿ˜ฎ. Lรฉon has now completed his studies and is settled in Rouen ๐Ÿ˜Œ. Their love blossoms again ๐ŸŒบ.

Lรฉon โค๏ธ Emma

“Was she serious in saying such things? Doubtless Emma herself had no real idea, being quite taken up with the charm of the seduction and the necessity of resisting it”.

Part III, Chapter 1
Madame Bovary |Gustave Flaubert |Inclined Scorpio |Book Review | French Novel
The reunion of Lรฉon and Emma

Lรฉon and Emma reunites ๐Ÿ’ž after a long period. Emma goes to the city ๐Ÿ™ every week to meet him while Charles thinks that she attending her classes for piano ๐ŸŽน. Lรฉon and Emma shar the same room ๐Ÿšช in the hotel ๐Ÿฉ. But, Lรฉon gets bored ๐Ÿ˜” after some time and displays no interest in her ๐Ÿ˜. But Emma who is back to her dreamworld ๐Ÿ˜‡ buys luxurious clothes ๐Ÿงฅ๐Ÿ‘’ and other accessories ๐Ÿ‘ข in credit from a merchant ๐Ÿง named Lheureux. She even manages to get the power of attorney ๐Ÿงพ of her husband’s estate. Her debts ๐Ÿ˜ฃ were growing as she was busy purchasing ๐Ÿ›๏ธ and living her dream life ๐Ÿ™„.

“She was the amoureuse of all the novels, the heroine of all the plays, the vague โ€œsheโ€ of all the poetry books”.

Madame Bovary

Emma Commits Suicide ๐Ÿงซ

“But, if there were somewhere a strong and beautiful creature, a valiant nature full of passion and delicacy โ€ฆ What an impossibility! Nothing, anyway, was worth that great quest; it was all lies! Every smile concealed the yawn of boredom, every joy a malediction, every satisfaction brought its nausea, and even the most perfect kisses only leave upon the lips a fantastical craving for the supreme pleasure”.

Part III, Chapter 6

Emma is unable to pay off her debts ๐Ÿ˜ฃ to Lheureux. She seeks ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป the help of Lรฉon and Rodolphe. But they send her off ๐Ÿ˜ wothout giving a penny. Depressed, she commits suicide by taking in arsenic ๐Ÿ˜ฅ. Her husband, Charles is broken ๐Ÿ’” by the death of his wife and keeps her room ๐Ÿšชand preserves all of her possessions ๐Ÿ“• in her memory ๐Ÿ˜”. He even adopts her attitudes to fill her absence in his life โ˜น๏ธ.

Charles Dies Heartbroken ๐Ÿ’”

The possessions of Charles is taken over by Lheureux. His debts are paid off ๐Ÿ™‚ but Charles is heartbroken ๐Ÿ’” when he finds the loveletters ๐Ÿ’Œ of Lรฉon and Rodolphe in his wife’s materials ๐Ÿ™„. He couldn’t overcome this trauma ๐Ÿ˜ฃ, he dies โšฐ๏ธ. His daughter is guarded by his mother ๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿป, who dies soon. She ๐Ÿ‘ง๐Ÿป is later send to live with an aunt, who sends her to work in a cotton โ›๏ธ mill.

“The pharmacist had meditated every phrase, he had smoothed and polished it and made it flow; it was a masterpiece of deliberation and progression, of elegant style and tactfulness; but anger had obliterated rhetoric”.

Part III, Chapter 2

The novel, ‘Madame Bovary’, ends by mentioning a local pharmacist Homais ๐Ÿงช, who a colleague of Charles in medical practice ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€โš•๏ธ. He now lives in Yonville and had gained achievements ๐Ÿ† for his successful practice in medicine ๐Ÿ’Š.

Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners

  • Part I: 9 Chapters
  • Part II: 15 Chapters
  • Part III: 11 Chapters

‘Madame Bovary’ was initially published ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ in the title ‘Madame Bovary: Provincial Manners’ in French. ‘Madame Bovary’ became the best seller ๐ŸŽ‰ in 1857, the same year it was published ๐Ÿ—ณ๏ธ as a book. ‘Madame Bovary’, set in France ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท is a transition โžก๏ธ from romanticism to reality depicting the bourgeois ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ’ผ culture. Even though the book ๐Ÿ“— does not attack ๐Ÿ˜  the bourgeois, it depicts the fall โฌ‡๏ธ of certain individuals in the middle-class society.

Emma, addressed as Madame Bovary is an interesting ๐Ÿค” character of the novel as many has analysed her character. Ignรจs Sodrรฉ, a psychoanalyst wrote an essay ๐Ÿ“ƒ titled ‘Death by Dreaming’ detailing her daydreams ๐Ÿ˜‡. This essay also made use of the Freudian essay ‘Creative Writers and Daydreaming’. The character, Emma seems to live ๐Ÿ˜Œ in a fantasy, ignoring ๐Ÿ˜ what happens before. ‘Madame Bovary’, infact question โ”the existing institution of marriage๐Ÿ’ and other relationships existed in the society just as Hardy’s novels ๐Ÿ“šdid.

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Naeema Jaleel

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Naeema Jaleel

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1 Comment


Rubal Singh · December 27, 2021 at 3:14 pm

Hi Naeema, great article! I enjoyed reading it ๐Ÿ™‚

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