• Flaubert = realist French writer, born in Rouen, France. The son of a highly successful provincial doctor and the chief surgeon of the municipal hospital.
  • His family lived in the residential wing of the hospital.
  • Suffered from poor health and perhaps had epilepsy, therefore he had to stay home, exactly what he wanted…it gave him time to write.
  • Madame Bovary published in 1857, first published in French.
  • Flaubert spent 5 years writing the novel (1851-1857). He was a perfectionist, worked hard to find the perfect diction for everything (some believe that the true extensive beauty of the work was lost when it was translated from French to English).
  • Set in the mid-1800s, in the French towns of Tostes, Yonville, and Rouen.
  • Flaubert despised the bourgeois, and on urging from his close friend Louis Bouilhet, chose to compose a novel inspired by bourgeois life. He found the moral conservatism, rough manners and unsophisticated taste of the class appalling.
  • Novel inspired by the Delamare family.
  • Eugene Delamare had been a fairly poor medical student studying under Flaubert's father. Unable to pass his exams, Eugene became an officer de sante and worked in a country town near Rouen. Like Charles Bovary, Eugene married an older widow who died within a few years and then married a young, pretty daughter of a nearby farmer. Madame Delamare was educated in a convent and had a penchant for romantic novels. At first excited to escape her family farm, Madame Delamare soon grew bored and frustrated with her husband and her life. Like Emma Bovary, Madame Delamare was extravagant with money and had many extra-marital affairs. She soon developed great debt and then committed suicide by poisoning herself. Eugene had been deeply in love with the selfish woman and, unable to live without her, committed suicide himself. Eugene's mother raised the couple's only daughter in poverty.
  • The direct experiences of the author were woven into the novel.
  • Emma Bovary: inspired by Flaubert’s mistress Louise Colet, who gave him the insight to consider Emma’s discontented childhood.
  • Doctor Lariviere based on Flaubert’s father
  • The maid Felicite based on Flaubert’s nurse, Julie.
  • Used medical terminology, with the help of his friends
  • The novel was considered controversial @ the time b/c of its depiction of adulterous affairs, and Flaubert “appears to glorify affairs and disgrace marriage”. Precautions were taken to prohibit access to the book.
  • Petit bourgeois village life
  • Used his book to “demoralize the bourgeois class from within”.
  • Flaubert created his own style… continuous rhythm, everyone talks in clichés, impersonal; wanted to avoid the flow of Romantic literature.
  • Dialogue = minimum.
  • The everyday common things are described w/ vivid detail.
  • The book carries the subtitle Moeurs de province, and is meant to highlight the difference between Paris and the rest of France.
  • Flaubert’s novel also reacted against romanticism. However in Madame Bovary, romanticism is present, but Flaubert always treats it with irony, recognizing the flaws.
  • The rhythm conveys the mood of his characters, matching the style to the plotline.

Part I

Chapter I: Charles Growing Up

  • The significance of beginning with Charles Bovary, is that he is the classic bourgeois person, it sets the stage. We learn of his family and what values they hold, classic bourgeois values.
  • The fact that it ends w/ him too, is as if Emma is enveloped in bourgeois life and from beginning to end there is no escape.
  • The 1st chapter begins w/ 1st person plural, it is as if “we” are observing Charles on his first day @ school; by the second page it slowly shifts to 3rd person.
  •  Charles Bovary is the son of a former army surgeon and his wife, who now live on a small farm.  very similar to Charles but also to Eugene Delamare.
  • Charles’ father, manages money poorly and is unfaithful, has lost his wife’s respect, and she now lets out all her affection on Charles, she spoils him.
  • Charles is unremarkable, unimaginative, and lazy, but good-natured. Charles failure to pass his medical exam is an example of his dullness and complacency.
  • Charles marries Heloise Dubuc, an old widow with a large dowry. There is no love in the relationship all she does is nag.
  • Charles is characterized as faint-hearted and easily controlled. His wife easily controls every aspect of his life, and he submits even though he doesn’t want to; this is not how society was supposed to be…(pg.7)

Chapter II: Charles Meet Emma

  • Charles’s inability to understand Emma’s words is another example of his dumbness & simplicity.
  • The fact that Flaubert waits to introduce Emily, keeps us in a little bit of suspense. He sets the scene, of the country (Is this his way of making Emma seem as if she doesn’t fit in?)
  • pg. 16-17 [He arrived there one day… by touching the iron knobs on the big fire dogs. I like this passage, also great example of realism.
  • When Emma is introduced, she doesn’t seem important and we learn about her through other people’s perceptions.
  • Mme Bovary Junior becomes suspicious of Charles’ visits to La Bertaux and makes him promise that he will never see her again
  • The Bovarys find out that Heloise lied about how much money she had, Charles’s parents argue violently about this development, and Heloise, shocked and humiliated, dies suddenly, a week later.

Chapter III: Charles Proposes

  • Before Emma, there are two other Madame Bovarys… his mother & his second wife.
  • The difference between Emma Bovary, and the Madame Bovary Senior and Heloise Bovary; is that his first wife and his mother controlled Charles and characterized him as someone who is easily controlled.
  • The two other Bovarys are unimaginative and petty, while Emma longs for a romantic, grand life. And therefore she has trouble filling their shoes and Charles has issues understanding her.
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  • First mention of windows (pg. 17) … M Rouault opens the shutter of the window after Emma accepts Charles’ hand in marriage. (Him opening the window is like him allow Emma to leave the cage of her
  • Emma wanted a midnight wedding, this seems to be straight out of a romance novel and seems out of place among the traditional, country life M Rouault has raised her in.
  • Page 20-21 [Then he remembered… have been thirty by now], M Rouault remembers his wedding, this passage is very Romantic but he returns to reality when he remembers his son. ...

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