• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Social Class in Madame Bovary

Extracts from this document...


Discuss social class in 'Madame Bovary.' Is Emma a sophisticated aristocrat born by mistake in a bourgeois prison, or is she simply a middle-class girl obsessed with a richer life? Make detailed references to the text in order to support your points. In the novel, 'Madame Bovary,' Gustave Flaubert emphasises the importance of social class: all of the characters have a place in the social hierarchy, with obvious distinctions between lower, middle, and upper classes. The lower classes are represented by those who work for the Bovarys': Felicite and the wet nurse, in addition to the old beggar and to an extent, Justin. The upper class consists of Rodolphe, the guests of the ball in Part I, and even, Charles Bovary's classmates in the very first chapter. The Bovarys are part of the middle class, much to the disappointment of Emma. Emma is obviously part of middle-class society, but whether she belongs there requires further analysis. 'Madame Bovary' is about a beautiful woman, who is enchanted by the novels she reads, and ends up in a boring marriage, looking for the excitement she reads about. This eventually leads her into adultery, first with Rodolphe, and then Leon. Even her affairs are not as her novels describe them, and she continually has problems either with her husband or her lovers. ...read more.


(Pt I: Ch 2) Even with her bourgeois status, Emma knows many things solely associated with aristocrats and upper classes (dancing, embroidery, piano). Even her father is of the opinion that she is better than the life she has: "...he made excuses for her, thinking her too educated for farming, an accursed occupation, one that never made any man a millionaire." (Pt I: Ch 3) This further emphasises she does not belong in the middle-class societies. As well as her good education, it is also believed that Emma is too attractive to be part of lower classes: "Leon walked around the room; he thought it strange to see this beautiful woman in her cream cotton dress, in the midst of such misery" (Pt II: Ch 3) This quote further implies that Madame Bovary does not fit in middle or lower class societies, only more flattering atmospheres and places seem to suit her. She is also seen as, 'a lady of fashion', which is confirmed by her dress and manner: "...showing off on Sundays in church in her silk dress, like a countess." (Pt I: Ch 2) On the other hand, Madame Bovary shows much interest in the 'rich', and it could be that her aristocratic behaviour is only a result of this. ...read more.


In addition, as her husband becomes successful, and his reputation spreads, Madame Bovary seems to be more proud of him, and begins to love him more: " He saw his reputation spreading, his prosperity increasing, his wife loving him perpetually; she found herself happily revived in a new sentiment, healthier, better, happy to feel some tenderness for this poor boy who so adored her." (Pt II: Ch 11) This shows that she is not in love with her husband, but rather his success, and the prestige he brings to their family. When his operation is deemed a failure, she is immediately filled with rage, and all love she previously had for him had been lost. Emma can be seen as an aristocrat; she does, after all, possess traits which we usually associate with the upper class. However, Emma is part of a bourgeois family, and it is highly unlikely that she would be raised to be an aristocratic woman. She is married to an adequate doctor, and before marriage, had lived in the countryside. However much she prefers or likes the high society lifestyle, she is part of the middle class by birth, and even after her marriage to Charles she is still lives a bourgeois lifestyle, despite her attempts to be more aristocratic through the amount of material goods she owns. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate World Literature section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate World Literature essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Comparison of emma and charls in madame bovary

    4 star(s)

    Her cheeks were like rosy apples; and she carried a pair of tortoise-shell eye-glasses attached, in masculine fashion, to two buttonholes of her bodice" Charles always had woman that dominated him in the course of his life therefore they both had very different ways of loving."[..] she had been told she would be unhappy...

  2. Analysis of Dancing Classes by Gwen Raverat

    to bring that out in her. The writer wanted to gain sympathy by telling all that happened. She did not have a choice; she had to attend all the social events which she "dreaded". This tells us about her nature, that she's reserved and that she likes to be different from everybody.

  1. How does Madame Bovary use the motif of food as a class signifier?

    Her ostentatious way of drinking on her first meeting with Charles implies her physical desires that cannot be fulfilled because of her provincial way of life. Licking the bottom of a glass is an animalistic action, certainly not an act of refinement on Emmaâs part suggesting that she is no classier than the average French farm girl.

  2. To what extent does Guy de Maupassant show sympathy for Madame Loisel in 'The ...

    she not only dreams of marrying above her station, but that as a young, pretty, charming girl, she desires a life of nobility because of the material goods that being an aristocrat will bring her. With the introduction of her husband, the contrast between Madame Loiselâs character, and that of

  1. Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is a novel that very effectively brings out the economic ...

    When Gregor was having difficulty getting up from the bed he âthought how very simple everything would be if he got someone to helpâ but because he shared a very sad relationship with his family where he always gave but got nothing in return, he âcould not repress a smile at this thoughtâ.

  2. Madame Bovary essay - signifiance of Leon

    We also learn from this that Leon was an important part of Emmaâs life because his departure caused her to get depressed and to even fall sick. Leon causes Emma to go through struggles. When Leon and Emma reunite, their relationship goes on however they live in different towns.

  1. To what extent was President Richard Nixon responsible in the Watergate scandal in 1972-1974?

    the other side wasn?t going to blow the whole incident into a full fledged political scandal. Sir David Frost pointed out, Nixon was supposed to have had no knowledge of the details of the scandal during his meeting on the 20th of June but suddenly on the same evening he

  2. In what ways do the theme of Illusion and reality affect the life of ...

    different impression of the French society as the husband never really cared to know whether Emma is happy with her or not and Emma gets engaged in adulterous affairs. Emma at the beginning has her mind set that she will never be able to enjoy her life and live happily

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work