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Thread: Madame Bovary, The Disillusioned Love

  1. #1
    Registered User Babak Movahed's Avatar
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    Madame Bovary, The Disillusioned Love

    The novel Madame Bovary was an amazing novel no getting around that but one idea that presented itself that somewhat troubled me was, the vague notion of true love being inaccessible. Through out the entire story we see Emma's constant longing for that pristine conception of love but her hopes always seem to completely back fire. Now I will admit that Emma Bovary was no beacon of morality and that her view on life wasn't the greatest but that doesn't imply that the message about love isn't there. In my opinion in the whole novel every character worked in there own self interest and could care less about any other person. Some would probably argue that Charles Bovary was a good person but if you examine his character you can notice that he never has a will of his own throughout the whole book he is only doing what people tell him to do, ultimately not knowing anything about himself or never having a real personality. The realization for me was that the book implies there is no such thing as true love between people because the only thing that someone loves is themselves. It is a rough concept to agree with but it does make some sense, even if it is really subtle love is very selfish. You might love someone and not think twice about it, but deep inside you enjoy the fact that the person you love loves you back, treats you well, provides you with comforts or is simply spends time with you. Regardless of what it is the reason most people love is because you are getting something out of it. Which is what Gustave Flaubert demonstrates to us with each character looking to fulfill one of their needs when it comes to how they love. However the dilemma of this concept is that is there such thing as true love?

  2. #2
    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    I don't think so. Charles Bovary continued to love Emma, to treat her well, and to do things that made him unhappy because he thought they would make her happy, even when she was treating him like crap. The message I took from the book was that one person's selfishness can have unexpectedly far-reaching consequences.
    "Books don't offer real escape but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw." David Mitchell

  3. #3
    Emma Bovary wasnt neccessarily a bad person but she had very flawed views on love. That it was all about excitment. She thought she was looking for love but was clearly looking for change instead (every time there is an upheaval in the book she seems almost re-energised. The marriage, the ball, rodolphe, leon, etc). Charles is a good man but seems incapable of understanding how monotonous she finds life because if he is happy then everyone must be. He's not selfish just a little simple and weak willed though.

    True love isnt neccessarily unaccessible it just depends on what your definition of true love is. Emma got hers from those romantic bodice-rippers she read when younger. If she had experienced more of life and matured then she could have found true love.
    What is a ghost?
    A tragedy condemned to repeat itself time and again?
    A moment of pain perhaps.
    Something dead which still seems to be alive.
    An emotion suspended in time.
    Like a blurred photograph.
    Like an insect trapped in amber.
    A ghost.
    That's what I am.

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    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    I just took this book out of the library. I saw a PBS version of the story many years ago. I remember being shocked by Emma's insatiable appetite for pleasure and her cruelty toward her husband. He seemed to do everything to try to make her life better and it was never enough. It didn't seem like the poor guy deserved to be treated so poorly.

    My beach read, let you know how it goes.

  5. #5
    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    Now I'm more than half way through Madame Bovary and somehow I have a love/hate relationship toward her. On the one hand, I have sympathy for how boring she finds life and needs some kind of outlet to stimulate her mind. Affairs become her outlet. But on the other hand, she lives with a good man that doesn't get her. So again, she is lead back to finding understanding somewhere else.

    Rodolphe is completely using her and she doesn't get that he is a play boy and is she utterly crushed when things don't work out. She becomes quite sick, as I guess would happen in such extreme circumstances. She is so sheltered that she doesn't seem to understand the possible repercussions of how her adulterous behavior affects those around her (husband and child). For this ignorance, I could take a gun to her head a shoot her. At least know what you are doing and make the decision consciously!

    Favorite quotes:
    "When the left Tostes in March, Madame Bovary was pregnant,"

    "She wanted a son." "It's a girl!" She turned her head away and fainted.

    "And all this time she was torn by wild desires, by rage, by hatred. The trim folds of her dress hid a heart in turmoil, and her reticent lips told nothing of the storm. She was in love with Leon, and she sought the solitude that allowed her to revel undisturbed in his image."

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    Original Poster Buh4Bee's Avatar
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    Well, I finished this book and was not surprised at all by the ending.

    More good quotes:
    "Adultery , Emma was discovering could be as banal as marriage."

    Then she eats arsenic. What a story!

  7. #7
    the beloved: Gladys's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buh4Bee View Post
    Well, I finished this book and was not surprised at all by the ending.
    I finished yesterday, and was pleasantly surprised by the unexpected and comprehensive grimness of the ending. Charles Bovary becomes morally bankrupt. His well-meaning mother dies estranged. His daughter, Berthe, is a child labourer in a dark satanic mill, Emma's lovers and usurers live happily ever after, and fair-weather friend Homais "has just received the cross of the Legion of Honour". This is humour at its blackest. Did you really anticipate this ending?

    While the ending is truly magnificent, I found the rest of the novel a good read but less than thoroughly inspiring. Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, unlike romance-queen Emma, struggles so hard to act decently before, eventually, failing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Babak Movahed View Post
    Some would probably argue that Charles Bovary was a good person but if you examine his character you can notice that he never has a will of his own throughout the whole book he is only doing what people tell him to do, ultimately not knowing anything about himself or never having a real personality.
    In the end, Charles situation is even worse. His final days are governed by the poisonous will of dead Emma.
    "Love does not alter the beloved, it alters itself"

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