Madame Bovary Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Madam Bovary

For good or for bad, as people get older they learn that real life is not a romantic movie plot. How often is it that boy meets girl, girl and boy fall in love and walk into the sunset for the rest of their lives? The boy and girl may meet and fall in love, but what life is happy ever after forever? With the love and happiness in life come different amounts of disappointment, illness and pain. In fact, that is what makes the special smaller moments in life so special. The realist understands that accepting the good means accepting the frustrations as well. Because Emma never understood this human reality, she could not cope and decided to search for everlasting romanticism in life after death. Her mistaken view of life eventually leads not only to her death, but also to that of Charles, who unrealistically continues to love her.

Emma's unrealistic idealism started when she was young. When growing up, she spent a great deal of her time reading romance novels. She was introduced to the books by the woman who did the laundry at the convent. As a result, Emma holds an artificial understanding of the world around her. This causes her to have hopes with no possibility of their ever coming true.

Although she imagines that Charles would fulfill her romantic needs, Emma quickly discovers otherwise. It is very soon after marriage that her idea of love was shattered. When, in chapter five, Charles comes back into the room to bid her goodbye before a short trip, she questions, "Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed to her so beautiful in books."

This pattern where Emma dreams of one thing but gets another occurs throughout the novel. Hope is quickly followed by disappointment and despair. When the Bovarys attend a ball given by an area aristocrat, she sadly realizes this is where she belongs -- among the gentry and refinement, not with the boring life at home.

Therefore, her disappointment increases when returning to a unexciting routine with Charles as well as with the birth of a daughter instead of a son. Emma continues her search for the romantic ideal: She moves to a new town. She buys frivolous luxuries with money borrowed from the dry-goods merchant Lheureux. She enjoys a platonic love with Leon Dupuis, a notary clerk who shares her love for the arts. Nothing is enough.

Ironically, Emma finally gets her wish for a passionate romance when she agrees to an affair with Rodolphe Boulanger, one of Charles' patients. She enjoys the secrecy and excitement of meeting Boulanger on the sly. Beginning her affair with Rodolphe, Emma expects the same unrealistic bliss she had previously expected from marriage. She imagines "all would be passion, ecstacy, delirium." She still has not learned from the disappointment of her marriage. Instead she rushes into the affair with the same childish thoughts…

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