Madame Bovary: Reality vs. Romanticism

488 Words2 Pages
In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Emma Bovary, a completely romantic character, is deliberately placed into a harshly realistic world. Throughout the story we see Emma’s constant longing for the romantic life she has continuously read about, but her hopes always seem to back fire. She is an exaggeratedly, sentimental woman with the instruction, appearance, and the expectations of an heiress, living the reality of the middle class life as a farmer’s daughter. Her fantasies of romantic idealism eventually lead to her and her husband’s downfall. Her self–centeredness and unrealistic perception of reality cause her to ignore her child, deceive her husband, fall into promiscuity, and go so severely into dept that she offers her body in payment. This same distorted vision of reality also blinds her from the intentions of those who use her. For example, she fails to see that Rodolphe is only using her as a sex toy rather than valuing her as a cherished lover. She repeated: “I have a lover! a lover!” delighting at the idea as if a second puberty had come to her. So at last she was to know those joys of love, that fever of happiness of which she had despaired! She was entering upon a marvelous world where all would be passion, ecstasy, delirium. She felt herself surrounded by an endless rapture. A blue space surrounded her and ordinary existence appeared only intermittently between these heights, dark and far away beneath her. (131) Her exclamation makes it obvious that she is more consumed with the idea of an affair than with the reality. In all honesty, she is more naïve than Charles when it comes to Rodolphe. She mistakes a strictly sexual relationship for ‘true love.’ Considering it to be the same love embodied in those romantic bodice-rippers she read when younger. “She did not know if she regretted having yielded to him, or whether she did not wish, on the
Open Document