Madame Bovary Study Guide

Madame Bovary Study Guide

Original title:
Madame Bovary
2004 by Oxford University Press (first published 1856)
Rouen, 1850 (France) Yonville-l'Abbaye, 1850 (France) Tostes, 1850 (France)
ISBN 0192840398 (ISBN13: 9780192840394)

Gustave Flaubert spent a lot of time writing his first novel entitled “Madame Bovary”. It is a story about a woman trying to escape the dullness of the provincial life and unimaginative surrounding. When the text first saw the world, it was accused of obscenity. But it was because of the trial process that followed, that the story became famous and is still well known nowadays.

“Madame Bovary” can be called a book about a challenge of being a woman in the old times. There’s a man, who doesn’t want much from life. He has no goals, no desires, no passions. There’s also a young woman, who dreams of big love and overwhelming passions. They get married, but her pursuit of passions continues. Emma Bovary throws herself into a number of adventurous affairs, quite distortive and dangerous ones.

The text is more than a story about a lady who loved herself more than her reputation and made poor choices in men, as well as finances. It is a psychological research into the motives and wishes of the characters, where every action is scrutinized and explained from its reason to its cause.

The story doesn’t have a definite line with an end and a beginning – it opens with Charles first marriage before he met Emma and Emma’s death is only the beginning of the story of her husband’s demise and her daughter’s life. With such plot composition, the author intensifies the feeling that “Madame Bovary” is nothing more than an incident in the life where millions of similar stories happen simultaneously.

Flaubert spent five years working on the text. There are numerous layers to the story: the provincial ways of life, love affairs, financial decisions in pursuit of luxurious lifestyle, morals and meaning of life. Every word in each line is well thought, every character is inserted just in the right place. It is a must read as a nicely crafted text and an interesting food for thought.


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