Emphasis on Characters in Madame Bovary Essay

Emphasis on Characters in Madame Bovary Essay

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Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary masterfully explores the mid-19th century cultural scene, coloring the subject with his opinion. Through the book Flaubert lends insight into life in at the time, and imparts his opinions on the social world. He accomplishes these goals using the Bovary’s. Flaubert reevaluates characters through conflict, absence, juxtaposition, and selective thought examination to vilify the Bovary’s. Whether through necessity, or by purposeful ignorance characters rise and fall in their prominence, allowing Flaubert to lead the reader towards his opinion. A matter of debate exists regarding his purpose in this matter, and many critics have extrapolated that Madame Bovary is a critique on the bourgeoisie values.
In Madame Bovary, characters rise in prominence as they meet conflict. Stories consist of conflict, in one form or another. A situation that creates conflict brings the characters involved to the forefront. As Madame Lefrancois watches Hippolyte suffer, she grows resentful. A background character in the novel up to this point, she now becomes front and center when she refuses treatment from two of the most notable doctors in the region proclaiming, “Don’t listen to him, my lad” (126). Her rise to this status is rapid as the sequence of events concerning Hippolyte’s leg unfolds, and her fall happens almost as rapidly. She uses her time in the spotlight to criticize the decisions and directions of Charles. For a brief moment Madame Lefrancois was the forefront of attention, as the conflict necessitated, but when it dissipated she quickly departed from the reader’s mind.
Flaubert ignores characters until they assist him in disparaging the Bovary’s. The reader would almost forget that Madame Bovary had a ...


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...ough their interactions with various characters. This allows the narrator to posses an opinion. Because of this, the reader must analyze their thoughts to determine their origin. Flaubert masterfully implants ideas into the heads of readers, a skill that readers can learn from and utilize. The various methods through which he does this progress in order of complexity and subtlety: Conflict, ignoring and expanding beyond the characters, juxtaposing the Bovary’s to the successful characters, and selective thought examination. This serves Flaubert’s purpose in vilifying the Bovary’s without him presenting them as deplorable. In vilifying the Bovary’s Flaubert criticizes the desired bourgeoisie lifestyle, only allowing the Bovary’s to attain it through financial ruin.




Work Cited
Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Trans. Eleanor Marx Aveling. Mineola (NY): Dover, 1996.

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