Emma Bovary — the second Mrs. Charles Bovary, is a powerful example of the waste of life when a person cannot or chooses not to, differentiate between reality and dreams. She’s an example of ruin of the weak-willed through self-absorption and vain-glory. She wastes her life chasing a unicorn, when she could had a wonderful life being content with the “horse” that was right in front of her. She had a life that many would have been happy with, and honestly, she should have been happy with it. She could have been happy with it had she not been the woman she was. In her discontent, all the things she thought would make her happy including the taking of lovers … didn’t. What’s more sad is that even at the end of her life, her sense of reality and regret were still distorted.
While Flaubert focuses on Ms. Emma as the book’s protagonist, secondary character — Charles Bovary was not that much different from her. Also weak-willed, he was dominated by all the of the women in his life. His mother, the first Ms Bovary and even more by the second Ms. Bovary — Emma. It’s funny, his only show of strength is when he dismissed his mother from his house after she criticized Emma in the last half of the book. He caused his own ruin by putting her (Emma) on a pedestal which eventually blinded him to her philandering, her over-spending and her truest view of him. How could a person not see or acknowledge the level of disgust she had for him? Rather than face the uncomfortable, he let it drive him mad then eventually to bankruptcy.
Even more distressing, his and Emma’s weak-willed dispositions left their daughter unattended and bound to a life of servitude and poverty. It was almost as if she didn’t enter their thoughts except fleetingly.
This book was an intense read for me from beginning to end. I wasn’t sure what my assessment would be since the language the book is written in could be intimidating to the non-reader. However, as the characters developed, it became intriguing to see what happens next; for me this book was a page-turner from beginning to end. It was something to see, that despite her weak-willed disposition, Emma became to Leon what Rudolphe had become to her — frightening!
Star Rating: 5 stars
- Title: Madame Bovary
- Date of 1st Publication: 1856
- Author: Gustave Flaubert