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An analysis of Homais in Madame Bovary

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Introduction

Nabil Wilf 0985072 Campbell High School World Literature Paper 2 Word Count: 1619 -45 An analysis of Homais in Madame Bovary Flaubert's Madame Bovary presents the effects of a woman's destructive desires on the society around her. From the beginning of Emma's entrance into the novel it is clear that she is obsessed with romance. Her marriage to Charles Bovary does nothing to satisfy those desires. Throughout the novel, Emma is disillusioned by her ultimate dream of style, love, and nobility. When it is clear to Emma that Charles is too dense to realize her unhappiness, she turns twice to adultery to satisfy her romantic desires and obsessions. She becomes ruthless in her endeavors, harming anybody and anything in her path toward nobility. She secretly leeches upon Charles to finance her dreams and drives him into poverty. By the end, Emma commits suicide to save face and to avoid a life of poverty. Flaubert is a master at using motifs and minor characters to delineate the different castes of society and Emma's subsequent struggle for greatness in nobility. In particular, Flaubert uses the trite Homais to symbolize the bourgeoisie, to represent the male counterpart of Emma, and to achieve what Emma could not. ...read more.

Middle

So he invited Doctor Lariviļæ½re to do him the signal honor of having lunch with him" (298; pt. 3, ch. 8). Instead of eating lunch, Homais and the doctors, to whom he ingratiates, should be comforting Charles while he watches his wife die. Flaubert constructs this scene as the ultimate ridicule of the middle class as the doctors and Homais represent their caste's constant preoccupation with themselves. Interestingly, Flaubert also mocks the bourgeoisie's lack of spirituality through Homais. After Emma has died, the priest and the pharmacist watch over her body. The apothecary and the priest quickly get into a heated discourse over religion. Homais blasphemously claims that praying to God is a waste of time: "'But,' the pharmacist objected, 'since god knows all our needs, what's the use of prayer?'" (305; pt. 3, ch. 9). It is apparent from this comment that Homais is an agnostic since he questions the use of prayer, which is the pillar of religion. In the same heated conversation with the priest, he states his belief that the Jesuits have fabricated some accounts of history: "Texts, bah! Open up the history books. ...read more.

Conclusion

He portrays the difference between the likelihood of a woman succeeding into the upper class versus a man's and clearly asserts through this irony that women are either born or married into the nobility, rather than a man who must labor into the higher caste. Yet there is more that Flaubert communicates to the reader in his ending. Although, Homais and Emma both yearned for grandeur and eminence, they sought after their dreams in two divergent manners. Emma can be summed up as a dreamer and idealist who yearned for escape from her life into the fanciful and romantic arms of Rodolphe and Leon. Conversely, Homais is a pragmatic and realistic man who sought affirmation of his lifestyle by seeking fame and fortune from his schemes. Thus, the key difference between Homais and Emma is that the first was content with his existence while the latter was discontent and hence is the primary reason for Emma's eventual self-destruction versus Homais's self-gratification. As can be seen, Homais is one the most important minor characters in Madame Bovary. Flaubert uses him critically to characterize the hated bourgeoisie, to appear as a counterpart to Emma, and to contrast her demise with irony. Yet overall, Flaubert delineates the destructive potential that unrequited dreams can have on a discontented person as Emma versus a contented person as Homais. ...read more.

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