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Hope and Death; the eternal struggle of reality vs. idealism and its consequences in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Madame Bovary.

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Introduction

Hope and Death; the eternal struggle of reality vs. idealism and its consequences in One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and Madame Bovary. Flaubert has referred to Madame Bovary as "an exercise in style" as he thought the actual subjects he was writing about; in this being the people, the story, the locations; were not pivotal and that the only way to redeem the book was by making it into a great work of art. He wanted to be different from the hopeless romantics of his time that idealized life in every way. He did this by trying to bridge the gap between form and content, by attempting to make the words he used merge with the things he was describing. To do this, he searched almost fanatically for the "mot juste," the uniquely perfect word. That is, every word had to be exactly right to reveal the essence of the thing being described. The end result of this laborious process was the masterpiece that is known the world over today as Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary. The key theme of One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is the survival of the fittest in man's struggle for existence. Within the Siberian labor camp, life is as difficult as it gets. ...read more.

Middle

For example, Flaubert's description of Charles' cap in the opening scene tells you as much about its owner as you might get in pages of character analysis in another book. In a similar vein, Flaubert conveys the aimlessness and the total lack of direction of Emma's affair with Leon by taking you on an endless cab ride through the streets of Rouen. The long, winding sentences in this particular passage parallel the drawn-out nature of the trip. The description of Rouen Cathedral at the beginning of Part Three is another example of a passage rich with meaning. And, the many descriptions of food throughout Madame Bovary usually are reminders of lust. For example, the elaborately detailed description of the feast at Emma and Charles' wedding, where "big dishes of yellow custard, on whose smooth surface the newlyweds' initials had been inscribed in arabesques of sugar-coated almonds, quivered whenever the table was given the slightest knock." One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich is highly realistic. Because Alexander Solzhenitsyn endured a prison labor camp in Siberia, he is able to effectively give realistic details of camp life and the mindset of his protagonist; but he does not give excessive descriptions. His portraits of the prisoners and the struggles that they endure are short and vivid. ...read more.

Conclusion

Later, when Emma dies, the blind man gets to the end of his song about a young girl dreaming. It is then clear that what was originally thought be a song about an innocent woman is actually a bawdy, sexual song. This progression from innocence to sexual degradation mirrors the path of Emma's life. Another more major symbol Flaubert uses is the dead wedding bouquet. When Emma comes home with Charles, she notices his dead wife's wedding bouquet in the bedroom and wonders what will happen to her own bouquet when she dies. Later, when they move to Yonville, she burns her own bouquet as a gesture of defiance against her unhappy marriage. The dried bouquet stands for disappointed hopes and for the new promise of a wedding day turned sour and old. In a sense, Emma's burning of her beautiful bouquet foreshadows the way her desires will consume her youth and, eventually, her life. Flaubert's style in Madame Bovary also utilizes the effect of motifs, or recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes. An example would be the usage of death and illness. There are many disturbing references to death and illness in Madame Bovary, and the novel can seem very morbid. ...read more.

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