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The Quest for Realism

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  • Essay length: 889 words
  • Submitted: 20/09/2009
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AS and A Level General Studies

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The Quest for Realism

Often considered the pinnacle of realism, Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary strives to portray the life of Emma Bovary in a truly realistic fashion. In order to achieve this, Flaubert does several things, including giving the character Emma Bovary fanciful ideas about love and romance, which cause her overall unhappiness. Along with these unattainable ideas, Flaubert writes in a style which avoids, and even condemns romantic, flowery writing. Combined, Flaubert uses these to obtain a realistic style which he in turn uses to comment on Romantic writing, particularly to ridicule it, making Madame Bovary an anti-romantic manifesto.

Still a fairly new style during the time of Flaubert, realistic writing did not yet possess concrete, defining attributes, and as such, Flaubert employed several tools and techniques to achieve what he viewed as realism in Madame Bovary. The first and most obvious manner in which Flaubert accomplishes this is through making the plot realistic. As obvious as this seems, Flaubert does this in a manner which deserves discussion. Rather than simply making the plot plausible, Flaubert introduces his realistic plot through exposing the pitfalls and flaws of romantic philosophies. Emma's avid reading of

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