Monday, June 30, 2008

Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

madame bovary
gustave flaubert
c. 1856
342 pages
completed 6/28/2008

*may contain spoilers*

This is the second book by a 19th century French writer that I have read this year (the first being The Red and the Black by Stendhal). Both works were filled with the "hero" involved in devious and secretive acts which eventually were the "hero's" downfall. And both ended in their sad demise.

I put hero (I guess in this case it should be heroine) in quotation marks because in both novels the protagonist was so unlikeable. Emma's constant quest for romance and sophistication so blinded her that she couldn't see the love she had until her death. Her husband was quiet and simple. He wasn't the romantic, the hero, she wanted him to be. But he truly loved her.

I also found similarities between the character of Julien in The Red and the Black and that of Rodolphe in this novel. At least, similarities in their ideas of a mistress. For both of them, it wasn't that they fell in love (or even lust, really) and took a lover. Instead, it was like a contest. They wanted to challenge themselves. But where Julien quickly fell in love with his mistress, Rodolphe saw his whole relationship as a game to be played, like chess. Something where he had strategized his every move.

I really do think that Leon was in love with Emma. I think she was just in love with the romanticism the Leon could bring to her.

I hated that Emma not only ruined herself and eventually killed herself, but she also ruined Charles who did nothing but love her, though maybe he should have been a little more involved in the running of his house. And his mother made me crazy. Even if she turned out to be right about Emma sometimes, she was kind of out of control with her constant wailing that Charles loved Emma more than her. Creepy.


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