Literary Analysis Of Madame Bovary And The Awakening

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In two stories from the Realism Period, “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert and “The Awakening” by Kate Chopin, we see the struggle of early feminism and the constraints of women in that period. The main characters of Emma Bovary and Edna Pontellier have become literary symbols of the thirst for freedom and to be true to oneself. Additionally, they have become symbols for selfishness and longing for the unattainable. Exploring the similarities and difference of both women and their deaths will be the focus of this paper. Despite the authors writing the stories decades apart, there are striking similarities between the protagonists. Defying the societal standard of the time, they rebelled against their marriages and strove for any feeling…show more content…
Romance novels she reads, such as “Paul et Virginie” (Flaubert 1239), while growing up in a convent, leads Emma to an unrealistic view of love and romance. Edna turns out to be much more realistic in her view of life. She comes to understand that she does not love her husband, but “realizing with some unaccountable satisfaction that no trace of passion or excessive and fictitious warmth colored her affection” (Chopin 16). Social status is another point of separation of their characters. Emma is originally a farmer’s daughter who married a “health officer” (Flaubert 1224), and became part of the lower middle class, but dreams of rising to a higher social class. Edna’s father had been a colonel in the Confederate Army and she married Leonce who was a prominent businessman in New Orleans and they had a vacation home in Grand Isle, Louisiana. Having status as upper middle class does not hold any interest to Edna, for she is willing to leave her husband, children, servants, and large home to live in a small house by her. She does not even mind the gossip that comes from Alcee Arobin visiting her at the new little house. Emma wants some fantasy ideal while Edna desires control over her life and to be independent from anyone. Declaring to Robert that she was “no longer one of Mr. Pontellier’s possessions” (Chopin 98), Emma seeks to be her own
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