Edna Pontellier and Emma Bovary Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Her various lovers' beauty seems consistent with her love of beautiful material things and her admiration of herself as a beautiful object. For Emma, having an affair is another celebration of material goods -- her lover is an object that marks her as worthy, just like having the best clothing and furniture that money can buy (or can be borrowed). Her love is not for Leon or Rodolphe anymore than her love of her clothing is for the piece of cloth -- she seeks out men for what they can do for her, so she can engage in an enactment of her fantasy of herself as a star of a romance. Flaubert underlines this fact by having Emma fall in love during various representations of provincial life that represent consumerism or superficiality, such as a local agricultural fair or watching an opera.

Edna, in contrast, seeks to find love below the surface of ordinary life. She is not content to pretend to be faithful, and her most radical act is not having the affair, but admitting openly that she is unfaithful in a way that shocks Adele and more conventional moral figures in Chopin's novel. Rather than retreating to a world of buying and selling when she feels disappointed in love, Edna retreats from the world and returns to nature, ultimately not dying from poison that is bought like Emma, but in the water, swimming in the sea. Both women's desire cannot exist in their respective worlds, but Emma's inability to live a happy life reflects her unwillingness to accept that life does not exist as it does in books. Edna's projected ideal existence arises from a drive to express her newly-awakened sensuality and intellectual and artistic capacity. She has no model, as neither Adele nor Mademoiselle Reisz's way of life can satisfy her dual, competing needs to love and life a free life. Emma has all too many role models -- poor ones that promise her that a woman's romantic life is and should be enough to sustain her, body and…

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