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How does Flaubert use the Agricultural fair at Rouen to further his satire of 19th century French society?

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Introduction

WORLD LITERATURE 2 ESSAY: TYPE 2C Candidate number: D-0612-011 Name: Matthew Jackson Text: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert Title: "How does Flaubert use the Agricultural fair at Rouen to further his satire of 19th century French society?" Word count: 1427 words. HOW DOES FLAUBERT USE THE AGRICULTURAL FAIR AT ROUEN TO FURTHER HIS SATIRE OF 19TH CENTURY FRENCH SOCIETY? Gustave Flaubert wrote his novel Madame Bovary in the mid-nineteenth century as a satirical comment on the upper middle class, those who were just rich enough to pretend to be rich. Flaubert loathed them and wrote his novel to make them appear as the fools that he thought them to be. His loathing for the upper middle class of 1850's France stemmed from the ideals which they held. Flaubert saw his fellows as a generation lost to the meritless and frivolous dreams of the French Romantic movement.1 French Romanticism was a movement through all the creative arts towards idealising the world which artists constructed. Although equally present in music and visual art, Flaubert focused both his hatred and his satire on the literature of the time, this reactionary nature earned him the title of a "naturalist". This was however something that Flaubert hated; the Naturalistic movement was one that focused on specifics and on realism in a work, whereas Flaubert sought to make his story one that was applicable to any setting. ...read more.

Middle

The reader should note the over-punctuation which creates a disjointed tone: Oh! Come what may, sooner or later, in six months, ten years, they will be together, will be lovers, because Fate ordains it, because they were born for one another. Flaubert runs the entire monologue into a single paragraph. This has the effect that we are left with the impression of a clumsy attempt at seduction muttered quickly under the breath. In the next paragraph Flaubert describes the sensations that Emma feels. He writes of Emma's observations of Rodolphe. Ironically much of the passage is devoted to describing the smell of Rodolphe's pomade and to the fresh scent of the ivy climbing a nearby house, but one can only imagine the onslaught of odours that would campaign against ones nostrils in a rural agricultural fair. Flaubert's writing here mimics that of French Romanticism, his style is an exaggeration of the literary genre that he seeks to mock. This is perhaps also a reflection of the feelings that Emma wants to have as much as the feelings that she does have. The next paragraph contains the concluding section of the Councillor's speech. One should note the immediate change: Emma has been lost to the scent of Rodolphe's hair, and then suddenly the councillor shouts out "Endurance! Perseverance!", ideals which are in stark contrast to Emma's thoughts of desire. This serves to make Emma appear petty, concerned only with those matters that are emotive and frivolous. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is trivialising these matters of the heart by comparing them to the hardworking people of the fields, where the labourers are planting seeds for the New Year. Flaubert continues to alternate between describing the speech and describing the seduction. The contrasts between the two begin subtly but as we continue down the page they grow less and less so. By the time we reach the bottom of the page Flaubert has begun to intermingle the words of Rodolphe, speaking of love and destiny and of all the ideals of French romanticism and Derozerays, who talks of money of work and of that which is concrete and substantive: - Did you know that I would be escorting you? - Seventy francs!3 - A hundred times I wanted to leave, and I followed you, I stayed. - Manures! - As I shall stay this evening, tomorrow and the day after, all my life. Flaubert's purpose in this entire extract is to satirise the seduction. More importantly, it is to show that the ideals that are shared by the Bourgeoisie and the Church concern matters that are emotive and are therefore trivial compared to those things concrete such as land, money and food. Flaubert trivialises the entire Romantic genre by setting a clich�d romantic conversation, that proliferates with the language and metaphors that permeate the literature that he is satirising. He then places this exaggeration of the Romantic movement into a situation that is overwhelmingly provincial and agricultural. This serves his purpose of mocking the petty bourgeoisie and the Romantic movement. ...read more.

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Response to the question

The essay begins with a detailed introduction, which tells the reader about Flaubert, the novel, French Romanticism, as well as the concept of satire itself. For an essay of this length, the introduction could have been shortened and made more ...

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Response to the question

The essay begins with a detailed introduction, which tells the reader about Flaubert, the novel, French Romanticism, as well as the concept of satire itself. For an essay of this length, the introduction could have been shortened and made more compact. However, as soon as the main body of the text begins, the writer quickly dives into the most important elements of the Rouen scene and explores a series of literary techniques and subtleties, all of which are linked to satire. We have a rich mix of the study of dialogue, behaviour, free indirect style, thought, as well as minute, but significant details, such as punctuation. The writer never strays from the question and elegantly pushes all his points together towards a very well-written essay. One thing only is lacking – a conclusion. Because of such a detailed analysis in the main body, the conclusion would have been necessary to really knit everything together once again.

Level of analysis

The analysis of the Rouen scene is brilliant in this essay. What impressed me particularly was the depth and variety of points made by the author. For example, this is especially effective when he compares dialogues between the lovers and the speech by the city official: he starts off with a general point, brings up examples, and goes on to explore the implications: “The contrasts between the two begin subtly but as we continue down the page they grow less and less so. By the time we reach the bottom of the page (…)”. This technique continues all the way though: small points that shift and develop to bigger points, and end up being solid ideas and theories. However, I have found a couple of misinformed remarks: throughout the essay, the author insists on Flaubert’s “hatred” and “loathing” towards the French society. These words are too strong for an academic essay and should be written more diplomatically. Moreover, in contrast to the author’s opinion, Flaubert has actually been notoriously difficult to define and has rarely been classified as a naturalist. Still – overall, the author has managed to capture the essence of the scene both in the context of the question and as an essential part of “Madame Bovary”.

Quality of writing

In terms of language, the essay is spotless. No spelling or grammar mistakes at all; the writing is clear and fluent, and the author uses it to his advantage. Some turns of phrase are indeed quite witty, making the essay even more interesting, for example “bovine conspirators” or “consistently contrasting the everyday provinciality of the agricultural fair with the frivolous fantasies in which the two "star crossed lovers" engage”. Terms specific to literary analysis are to be found throughout the text: “exaggeration”, “mimicking”, “oration” or “substantive” to name a few. Great job!


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Reviewed by evabianka 14/08/2012

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