Sunday, November 25, 2007

Madame Bovary Period 6


Members:
Michelle P6
Meg S6
Katie S6
Sarah C6

Part One read by: 11/28
First blog session on Part One by: 11/30
Part Two read by: 12/5
Second blog session on Part Two by: 12/7
Part Three read by: 12/12
Third blog session on Part Three by: 12/14
Essays at the end read by: 12/19
Fourth blog session on Essays by: 12/21

39 comments:

Michelle said...

The most interesting thing that I have found so far in reading Madame Bovary is the time setting. Gustave Flaubert drags his description of a few moments in time i.e. the opening of Charles Bovary in school, the wedding, then right to his school days and marriage to his first wife.
Why do you guys think Flaubert does this?
Since not having read the full book, I may have just not found the right reason in hindsight, but I'm interested in speculations.

So far I like the book. I had previously thought that it might be a bit stuffy and perhaps boring but because of the fast paced timing and simple but eloquent language that Flaubert uses, it has kept me interested throughout my reading.

I am interested in Madame Bovary's character and how it clashes with Charle's indifference compared to her "suffering". It makes me wonder how their relationship will work and what it has in store for the rest of the book.

Meaghan S6 said...

So far, I have really enjoyed Part One. The text is fairly easy to read and the words flow really well. I often forget that the book was originally written in a different language. Lowell Bair, who translated the text, really kept the tone consistent with how I can imagine Flaubert writing it in French. The syntax is fairly straightforward and there are only a few words here and there that I did not really know and had to look up. It is not as roughly translated as I would normally imagine a translation to be. It is hard to get everything verbatim because there are so many phrases that get lost in translation, but overall I think it is really well put together.

First off, to answer Michelle’s question, I think Flaubert paces the book so quickly at the beginning in order to show that the time before Emma and Charles’ marriage was insignificant. The focus is clearly on their married life and the trials and tribulations that they endure, but I can see how it is used to set up a comparison.

For example, at the very beginning, when Emma is described during her school days, she seems to be portrayed as a saint-like figure. She is the perfect Catholic student who “invented little sins so that she could stay longer” (35) in confession and “knew her catechism well” (34). However, after she is married and begins to live with the desire for more than she has, she becomes more devilish. Like Michelle said, she always talks about her “suffering,” and she becomes almost a drama queen about everything. This comparison, with her past being the quickest idea, reflects the transition that has sparked new feelings within her, and appears to be the catalyst for her change in attitude toward life.

The question I want to pose to you guys is, what is the significance of the ball at La Vaubyessard? After she and Charles attend this dance, everything Emma sees is in a different perspective. How do you think that altered her? Did it change or affect her relationship with Charles?

sarah c 6 said...

So far I have enjoyed this book. I like the way it is written and translated. When I was reading the beginning of the book I was a little bored with it. I wasn't sure why the author put in the part about Charles' parents' history. When Charles became a doctor and married the widow he seemed unhappy. But when Charles met Emma the mood changed, and I also started getting more interested in the book.

To answer Meagan's question, I think that when Emma experienced a new lifestyle she realized that hers seemed boring in a way. Emma wants change and when she sees how all these people live, she wants to live the same way. She wants to go places and do things, not just sit around at home. She wants to do something different than what she is used to and bored with. It is not about money, because she has enough, but it is about excitement and change. She is almost rebelling a bit from when she was an "angelic" child.

Now that Emma wants change and is bored with her life I have become a little confused. She has a good husband and a nice house. Charles is a doctor and together they have money and are content. She was passionate towards Charles when they were married, but now she doesn't feel the same. Now she wants change, and I am confused because she waits until now to express her feelings. So a question I have is: Why does Emma just now realize that she wants change in her life? If she thought her life was not exciting, why didn't she go somewhere different or do something exciting before she settled down and married Charles?

Meaghan S6 said...

First off, I completely agree with Sarah. I think that Emma falls into a routine in her life and she becomes restless and bored by the monotony of it all. Though she has all the things that people would consider valuable and successful in life, like a husband, money, and a home, she is empty inside. It reminds me of the saying that wealth cannot by happiness. It must come from within, and I feel that Emma cannot find her own.

After the ball, her change in perspective begins as curiosity. She is spotted “looking at the men” in town. She takes out subscriptions to magazines that wealthy people read and begins borrowing books from the lending library. She even goes as far as to name her daughter based on the ball; she “remembered at La Vaubyessard she had heard the marquis call a young woman Berthe; she immediately decided on this name” (87). She had been toiling for so long to come up with a name, but she ultimately decides to use Berthe because it resembles high class to her.

It develops a bit more when she takes an interest in Léon. She spends long days with him, talking, strolling, and getting to know him. While her husband is away doing his duties as a doctor, she is becoming infatuated with another man. She “blushed” (90) when Léon saw her with her daughter. After the ball, she never seems this taken with her own husband, and the blushing to me represents a childhood crush. He is like a fantasy to her, a taste of what she cannot have. The ball showed her that, and was a turning point in her life, but meeting Léon turned it from daydreams into obsession.

To answer Sarah’s question, I think that Emma needed a defining moment to indicate to her that her relationship was getting “boring.” A lot of what I have read for this class this year have had moments of realization, like Meursault in jail and Sisyphus at the top of the hill, and I have a feeling that Emma just needed her own. I’d be interested to hear what anyone else thinks about it too.

So my next question somewhat ties into Sarah’s question. Emma clearly has feelings for Léon, so why does she push them away when she has the opportunity to leave? She tries to put him out of her mind, and she leaves the feelings all behind. Is she feeling guilty or just bored again?

Katie S6 said...

I want to go back to Meaghan’s first questions at the end of her post which asks about the significance of the ball and I think Flaubert is using this particular scene to foreshadow possibly what’s to come. The thing that really interested me was when Madame Bovary and the viscount danced the waltz. “They began slowly, then quickened their pace. They whirled and everything whirled around them –lamps, furniture, walls and floor – like a disk on a spindle. As they passed near a door, the hem of Emma’s gown caught on her partner’s trousers; their legs interlocked; he looked down at her, she looked up at him; a kind of torpor came over her and she stopped moving. They began to dance again; drawing her along more swiftly, the viscount led her to a remote corner at the end of the gallery, where, out of breath, she almost fell, and for a moment she rested her head on his chest. (pg.45)”
Madame Bovary talks about wanting more and finding love, I think this is the perfect foreshadow of just that. This paragraph is also very symbolic of a sexual nature. Also the imagery that Flaubert creates makes the reader feel as if they are a witness to this very seen and came feel everything. Also I want to point the part out where Charles is not a witness to this waltz can foreshadow how blind he is to his wife’s true desires.

One thing I also noticed was the way Flaubert incorporates the color green through most of his chapters. For example when Charles found the green silk cigar case with the coat of arms of the cover, I thought it was very ironic. I think the color green is a symbol of envy which Madame Bovary feels already towards people who have a better life then hers but also a foreshadow to Charles soon to be envy towards other suitors who captures his wife’s eyes.

Also when Michelle mentioned about the setting I think she has a great idea going. I think that Flaubert uses the setting to somewhat symbolize Charles and Emma’s marriage. On page 60-61 there is a great description of their new homeland which is written so beautifully. There is a specific line that I would like to point out, “The stream running along the edge of the grass forms a white line which separates the color of the meadow from that of the plowed land, thus making the countryside look like and enormous outspread cloak which has green velvet collar edged with silver braid. (pg.60)”

I think in this passage the white line that separates everything would the marriage itself. Because the beautiful meadow could symbolize Emma and her dreams of great things then the plowed lands gives off kind of a boring not so beautiful place such as Charles who does lead a boring life style. Again the green color could symbolize the envy they somewhat share however the silver braid still confuses me. I think this kind of braid would symbolize a tight bond of marriage which would be ironic because it’s not tight what so ever which could mean why the braid is silver and not white. Its not completely pure.

Why do you think Flaubert describes the setting so much? Do you think its symbolic of something also

sarah c 6 said...

In response to Meagan’s question, I think that Emma does not want to realize her feelings for Leon because she may end up regretting them. She is not sure if there will be consequences for her actions. I think she is afraid to act upon her desire because she is unsure about the outcome.

A passage that I think fits well for my reasoning is, “Sometimes, however, this hypocrisy became so repugnant to her that she was tempted to run away with Leon to some faraway place where she could begin a different life; but then she always felt as though some dark, mysterious abyss were opening up before her.”(94) Emma is scared of what will happen to her. If she sins, she may fall into this mysterious abyss.

I think Emma knows that her desire is to leave Charles. But Emma knows that if she leaves him it will be a sin. She hopes for a new life and she has strong feelings for Leon. But she can’t leave Charles. She is a little torn. She says that she basically hates Charles, but if this is true she should leave him. So my next question is similar to Meagan’s, is Emma only afraid to leave because of her consequences, or is she also afraid because some part of her still has love for Charles?

michelle p 6 said...

After reading the first part of the book, I've come to think that Emma always wanted more. Earlier in the novel, she is described as knowledgable and was "brought up at the Ursiline Convent, had received what is called a 'good education'; and so knew dancing, geography, drawing, how to embroider, and play the piano" (20). With this, I feel it's safe to assume that perhaps Emma had always wanted more out of her life.
I think that in meeting Charles when he first came to Rounault, she expected "balconies in Swiss" and to "enshrine her melancholy in a Scotch cottage, with a husband dressed in a black velvet coat with long tails, and thin shoes, a pointed hat and frills" (39).
I don't think Emma could ever really be satitisfied without the higher live and material objects. In a sense, I agree with Meaghan in that she has an emptiness inside, but without these material things and gilded life, I wonder if she can ever be satisfied?

Through my reading so far, I've started to really dislike Emma because of the things she puts Charles through, who has no idea and who, when he asks Emma, is snubbed. He moves for her and provides a lot for her yet she wanders and isn't really all that faithful, in many senses. It doesn't make sense to me that Flaubert would cast her as the tragic hero in this story, since she has yet to redeem herself.

sarah c 6 said...

I don't really understand why Emma intends on staying with Charles if she is unhappy and will upset Charles by being so cold towards him. Emma shows no affection for Charles and he does so much. He works very hard and provides a good life for Emma , but its not enough for her. Emma is never really satisfied, for as long as I have read so far. I don't think Emma will ever really be satisfied.

Emma seems to think that she is supposed to have more out of everything. "Emma was steadily growing more capricious and hard to please." I think she feels as if the world owes her. She is not happy and doesn't treat others as cordially as she should. Emma feels like she is better than some others and that she does not belong where she is. But I think that Emma knows that if she tries to leave, and have a different life, she will upset Charles and some others very much.

I think that Emma has no real reason for hating Charles. She uses it as an excuse for her unhappiness. She hates the fact that Charles loves her so much because she does not love him back. He is happy with her and she cannot understand it. I think she doesn't want Charles to love her so much because it would give her a reason to leave him. Now that Emma is pregnant, would she leave Charles is she had a chance? I wonder is she would be happier when her baby is born, or will she still be miserable?

Meaghan S6 said...

Now that Emma is pregnant, to answer Sarah’s question, I’m not sure how she is going to react. It really throws a monkey-wrench into the picture. I see it going one of two ways:

The first way is the way she has been living up to this point. The baby could turn her even further away from Charles. Having his child gives her leverage. The baby will be half his, so she can use it to hurt him even more than she already has. If she leaves him, she will likely take the baby with her, devastating him that much more.

The second way is that it will cause her to change. Sometimes in relationships, having a baby brings two people together, and in some cases, women get pregnant on purpose to try to save troubled marriages. Emma’s pregnancy could bring her closer to Charles and help her realize that she should appreciate how lucky she is for what she has in Charles.

I don’t know whether or not she got pregnant on purpose, but I have a really bad feeling about it. All of Emma’s actions have clearly pointed to her desire for wealth and the “good life” but will she put this desire above the needs of her child? What type of mother will she turn out to be?
Moreover, what will happen to Charles? Will the baby change his suspicions about Emma’s feelings towards him, and what type of father will he be? I’m curious to see their dynamic and how it will change after the baby is born.

sarah c 6 said...

Since Emma is so focused on her own suffering, I don’t think she will pay much attention to her baby. She seems to not care about anything but getting money and living the “good life”. I think Emma’s baby will represent another obstacle in her life holding her back from her true desires. It is another obstacle holding her back from escaping her sorrow. A mother should love her child with all her heart, but I don’t think Emma is capable of that. In my opinion, Emma would not be a good mother.

I think that Charles would be a good father. He has so much love for Emma, someone that does not even feel the same. This indicates to me that with his child loving him so much, he will love and take very good care of her. She is a part of him and partly his creation. I think he will love her very much. I think having a baby may cause Charles to realize how cold Emma is being towards him and help him figure out what is going on with her.

When the baby is born and growing up, I don’t think Emma will take as much notice as she should. I think Charles will want to take good care of his child, and will when he can, but he works and cannot always be home. The baby’s mother will be home with her and should take good care of her, but I think Emma will only push the baby away. I don’t think Emma will bond properly with her child like a mother should. Another reason I think Charles will have so much love for his child is the fact that his father was not so good to him. I think this could encourage Charles to set a good example and be there for his child. He will be the best father he can be. But I wonder what will happen if Emma leaves him. How would Charles react? How would the baby react when she grows up?

michelle p 6 said...

Because of Emma’s gilded image of the life that she wants to lead and because of the more self centered aspects to her, I think that although she’ll love her child, it will mostly be a way for her to live vicariously through her child. I think that she will be a good mother, but I think that the intentions behind her actions will be manipulative and misguided. Already, she uses the love for her child and for Charles as a way to torcher Monsieur Leon. “Then she affected anxiety. Two or three times she even repeated, ‘He is so good!’ The clerk was fond of Monsieur Bovary. But this tenderness on his behalf astonished him unpleasantly; nevertheless he took up his praises, which he said everyone was singing, especially the chemist. ‘Ah! He is a good fellow,’ continued Emma” (96).
Although the love she has for Leon plays a part in her resistance, it is mostly the ways that she does not feel much sorrow for his suffering that makes me think that her daughter will always be someone she uses to manipulate others. “She did not speak; he was silent, captivated by her silence, as he would have been by her speech. ‘Poor fellow!’ she though. ‘How have I displeased her?’ he asked himself” (96)
I think that also, the more people who love and need her, the further she will push herself away. “Emma grew thinner, her cheeks paler, her face longer. With her black hair, her large eyes, her aquiline nose, her bird-like walk, and always silent now, did she not seem to be passing through life scarcely touching it, and to bear on her brow the vague impress of some divine destiny? She was so sad and so calm, at once so gentle and so reserved, that near her one felt oneself seized by an icy charm, as we shudder in churches at the perfume of the flowers mingling with the cold of the marble” (97).
Unfortunately for her child, Emma doesn’t seem to know how she really feels about anything. She wants so much out of life but won’t take what she has into consideration. At the same time, people want so much out of her and I think that by having a child, who will unconditionally need her love, is pushing her to her breaking point. “Domestic mediocrity drove her to lewd fancies, marriage tendernesses to adulterous desires. She would have liked Charles to beat her, that she might have a better right to hate him, to revenge herself upon him. She was surprised sometimes at the atrocious conjectures that came into her thoughts, and she had to go on smiling, to hear repeated to her at all hours that she was happy, to pretend to be happy, to let it be believed” (99).

Meaghan S6 said...

Session 2 Post 1

Well, I’m about 42 pages away from the end of Part Two, and so much has happened that I want to start with focusing on Rodolphe and Emma’s relationship. Whenever Emma talked about wanting to be with other people or letting go of Charles, I never really took her seriously because I thought she truly had feelings somewhere for Charles. However, she crosses the line and cheats on her husband multiple times. She essentially carries on a relationship with Rodolphe right under Charles’ nose. Do you all think he knows about it and chooses to ignore it, or is he completely unaware of his wife’s actions?

Personally, I don’t see how Emma can justify her actions. Charles has provided a wonderful life for her, and most of all, he truly loves her and has stood by her since the very beginning. Flaubert gives the impression that it is more lust or infatuation rather than love at first, as it “intoxicated her at first, and she had thought of nothing beyond it” (106). Intoxicated is such a strong word that implies almost as if Emma is drunk off of the feeling she gets from him. This makes me think that she cannot possibly be in love with him because it is more of an influenced feeling given all of the circumstances surrounding her relationship with her husband and how she is so unhappy with him.

Through this, maybe Flaubert is trying to say that people in general can never fully understand love. Emma doesn’t seem to realize how genuine Charles’ love is for her, but she thinks that the flame she has for Rodolphe is the real thing. How can she be so sure? Love goes beyond physical attraction and kind words, so I don’t see how she can know that she loves Rodolphe.
Overall, I want to know what you all think about what Flaubert is saying about love. He is clearly showing all of its intricate parts and idiosyncrasies, and Emma has a lot of feelings she needs to sort out. I don’t think she will be able to do that until she comes to terms with what love actually is. What do you think Flaubert thinks love is?

Mr. G said...

I'm really enjoying your conversation so far. I'd say what's here is pretty good (but equal in value to one session.) Meg, I think you could go either way on yr post being considered in part II or an addition to part I in terms of length--Katie, I think you may need to catch up a bit.

I think that you all gave yourself the deadline of today for the 2nd session to be over, so I think you may want to catch up with these posts by the weekend.

sarah c 6 said...

In part two, I think Emma's love affair becomes very complicated. She meets Rodolphe and believes she will escape her miserable life. I think it is dumb that she believes that they will runoff and be lovers because she is already married and has a child. Emma just seems desperate to be loved, but doesn't want to accept that her life will prevent her from it.

When she meets Rodolphe, his motives are not what she believes them to be. He sees her beauty and he wants to have her, but not forever. When Rodolphe starts seeing her he has no intention of moving away with her and her daughter for a better life. I do not think Rodolphe loves her, it is lust. Rodolphe doesn't want to settle down, especially with someone that is married and has a child. On page 113, it says, "He had a great temperament and a shrewd intelligence; furthermore, he had had a great many mistresses and was a good judge of women." He does not really want to be with Emma.

Some of Rodolphes thoughts foreshadow that he will leave her. He thinks to himself, " Poor Woman! She's gasping for love like a carp gasping for water on a kitchen table. A few sweet words and she'd adore me, I'm sure of it! She'd be affectionate, charming....Yes, but how could I get rid of her later?" Rodolphe's motives are wrong and he manipulates Emma. But then again, she has a false hope that a "prince charming" is going to come sweep her off her feet and rescue her. I'm not sure what Flaubert thinks about love, but in the novel he makes it seem so unpredictable. Its always changing for Emma because she is never truly satisfied. But I wonder if these are examples of real love, or are they just examples of lust and desperateness?

Katie S6 said...

Its taken me a while but I have finally reached the end of part 2 in Madame Bovary. Right now I personally am not sure what to think of Emma and her situations she has put herself into. I’m going to start with Meghan’s question as to if Charles knows about the affair she is having with Rodolphe and I think he does. I mean if the town believes that Emma is having an affair why can he not? I think he chose’s to ignore it or I think Flaubert purposely leaves out exactly what Charles thinks because he does not want us to lose focus of Emma and the life she is living.

When Rodolphe offers Emma the horse, Charles is the one who steps in and tells Emma to take the horse. I think it’s ironic because Charles does love Emma but he sets himself up to get hurt without even noticing it. I feel bad for him but at the same time if he really loves her he should show her more affection then he does. Emma is looking for someone who is willing to devote all his time showing her affection and treating her right by providing her with rich things. However the only person I feel she would have the best relationship with would be Leon. I personally loved Leon’s character and couldn’t help but feel the emotion Flaubert would write about how hard it was for Leon to admit that he was in love with Emma.

I feel Leon was the best match because he knew that Emma was not available. Even though he was in love with her and often wanted to show his affection towards her he actually saw her as a human being, as a woman, and was in love with her because of who she was. There’s a passage “As for Emma, she did not ask herself whether she loved him. Love, she thought must come suddenly, with great outbursts and lightnings,—a hurricane of the skies, which sweeps down on life, upsets everything, uproots the will like a leaf and carries away the heart as in an abyss. She did not know that on the terrace of houses the rain makes lakes when the pipes are choked, and she would thus have remained safe in her ignorance when she suddenly discovered a rent in the wall.” Page.87

I think Flaubert is saying that love is not something you can take from a book and apply it in real life. Love is going to “upset everything” which I feel is somewhat foreshadowing a possible upset with Emma since Leon has come back into her life.

I have to go back to Rodolphe and Emma’s affair for a moment actually. I think the only reason Rodolphe was successful in his plan to seduce Emma was because she was on the rebound from Leon. I think because she never did anything about her feelings for Leon she was presented with a straightforward chance to make up for. She let herself get caught up in the moment and then when he left she didn’t know what to do. However at the beginning after Rodolphe confessed his “love” for he, the reason why he left for 6 weeks was because the heart grows founder. I think that the whole affair is a foreshadow of Leon and Emma in part 3, more so I hope that’s what will happen.

I also want to go back to Emma’s daughter Berthe which has been touched on before. I cannot believe how awful Emma is for a mother. She hits her child when shes looking for love from her mother and doesn’t often see her. I think its ironic because when Emma was younger her father gave her all the love in the world and the best of everything. However its terrible how she neglects her child. It makes me question if Emma even knows what love means besides the love she is looking for from a man.

Another thing is when Charles performs the operation for clubfoot which was unsuccessful. I feel that it was symbolic when Emma decided she was going to try to love Charles, it was just as unsuccessful.

What else do you guys have to say about Emma and her affairs?!

Meaghan S6 said...

Well, I really can’t believe how naïve Emma is. She thinks what she has with Rodolphe is actual love, and she completely takes her relationship with Charles for granted. Rodolphe even notices this, as he comments, “You’re wasting your time, my girl” (169) and “It’ll pass. It’s only a whim” (169). At this point, Emma “repented” (169) and wonders why she cannot love Charles.

However, Emma’s feelings change as Charles is given a brand new idea from the apothecary. He suggests that Charles learn to perform a surgery that can fix a “clubfoot” (170). Emma only wants Charles to agree to it because it will “add to his fortune” (170) and satisfy her more, so clearly her desire for him to take on the challenge is out of selfishness. If all she cares about is the money and fame the surgery will bring her husband, how can that be love?

The surgery seems very simple for Charles, but in the end, something goes wrong and his subject becomes severely ill. This to me is foreshadowing because I could see her crawling back to Rodolphe after Charles’ attempt at fame fails, and that is exactly what she does. I want to ask you guys, what do you think Flaubert is saying about the qualities of love by creating a character like Emma?
The other part I cannot quite understand is that Emma is called the heroine of this story. To me, she seems like an unsavory mistress that would be dismissed as an antagonist, not accepted as a heroine. From what we have read of Emma, what do you guys think is the reason she is referred to as such?

Meaghan S6 said...

So, while I was writing my post, I didn�t realize Katie had posted before me, so I�m going to address something that she said. I think the only time Emma really had some semblance of love was with L�on. She seems more intent on him as a person, and he is the one she pushes away above the others. I think Rodolphe is a chance for her to satisfy her lust and curiosity of a secret affair, and to be honest, I think the affair is more for her entertainment than anything. She would definitely not leave the security of her home for him as much as she says she would. She almost has no option�staying with Charles is her stability because he is the only one that would give up anything or do anything for her because he truly loves her. For Charles, I think she may have loved him once when they were both very young, but she never worked at the relationship enough to make it a successful marriage. I too hope that L�on will return toward the end of the book, because I see her as most compatible and happy with him.

That reminds me�the marquis that Emma danced with at that party way back in Part I. Do you guys think he is part of the story still, or that he will reemerge later? Ever since that dance, Emma has been seduced by the luxury of money and wealth, and ultimately that could have caused her to lose her interest in Charles because he could not provide to her all that she desired materialistically. Will he return now that the surgery failed and Emma cannot reap the benefits of Charles� new technique?

Meaghan S6 said...

So I have so many more mixed emotions now about this book that I couldn’t help but get them out. First of all, I can’t believe what Rodolphe did to Emma. It’s bittersweet for me; she had it coming, but she was so disillusioned with him that it was very sad to read about her getting her heart broken. I guess Flaubert is trying to show both sides of love, because one minute it can be the happiest feeling and the next it can be devastating and crushing. It reminds me of what we’re reading now with Stephen in Portrait, as he is facing a similar feeling of being pulled back and forth with regards to religion and sin. Emma is also being pulled from both directions by love and lust, similar to the way Stephen is dealing with his attempt at differentiating love from lust with the prostitute. How do you guys think this break-up contributes to Emma’s change in attitude? How/Why?

At first, when Emma deals with her ‘sickness,’ I thought she was faking it because when she passes out, it seems so dramatic and unrealistic. But as she gets sicker and sicker, it made me realize that her health and wellbeing were attached to her emotions with Rodolphe, and now that he’s gone, she’s lost all of her vitality and zest for life. What do you all think?

On a happier note, Léon is back! I knew he would be…it was only a matter of time. I knew when Charles suggested they go to the opera it would bring back something from her past. Normally, operas are related to entertainment for richer, high-class people, so this relates back to Emma’s latent desire for wealth and everything fancy that she developed after the ball. I am really looking forward to seeing what develops between them and whether or not it will pull Emma out of her ‘funk.’

sarah c 6 said...

I think that Emma's love affairs are pointless. She will get pleasure, but she will always be married and have a child. I think Emma will continue to have love affairs because she will never be content with her life. She will always want more. She wants to live the "good life" very badly, just like a teenager in high school wants to fit in. It will only be short-lived. I think Emma is dumb for thinking that Rodolphe loved her. It makes me feel a little sorry also though, because of the way he left her. I don't think that Emma is dumb for loving Leon though, because he does love her back.

I'm surprised that Leon comes back into the novel. Even though it is coincidence to the characters, it was planned by the author. I am curious as to why Flaubert brings back this character. Both Leon and Emma feel old flames when they see each other. After all the conflict with Rodolphe, I thought Emma might give up on trying to find another lover, but now that Leon is back my thoughts have changed. She has her heart set on finding someone that will love her the "right way". I think Leon can be that man, at least for a while.

Even though Leon has come back, I don't think Emma will be with him in the end. I think that now that Leon is back in the area, but not living in Yonville, Him and Emma will pick up where they left off. I think Emma may try to go see him sometimes, and they will have their alone time, but it will be different than Rodolphe because Leon actually has love for her. I don't think her relationship with Leon will end the way her relationship with Rodolphe did, but I can see some similarities in that she will secretly be having an affair with him.

I think that Leon does love Emma. When they see each other, they feel something from their past. At the opera their old feelings surface. I think they will pick up where they left off. However, the way it will end makes me curious. I don't think Emma will end up with Leon, but you never know. So, some questions I have wondered about: How will their affair end? ill Charles catch on? And if he does how will he react? And lastly, How will Emma react if Leon leaves her?

Meaghan S6 said...

Sarah, I completely agree that Emma seems to be digging herself a deeper hole with every love interest she tackles. I also agree that Léon does love her back, but I think after they start their weekly meetings, it becomes more of an obsession than actual love. I would like to direct you guys to a passage on page 261 in my book, it’s in Chapter 5 of Part III:

“With the diversity of her moods – by turns mystic, joyous, loquacious, taciturn, passionate or nonchalant – she awakened a thousand desires in him, aroused his instincts and memories. She was the amorous heroine of all novels and plays, the vague “she” of all poetry. He saw on her shoulders the amber skin of the “Bathing Odalisque”; she had the long-waisted figure of a feudal chatelaine; she also resembled the “Pale Woman of Barcelona,” but above all else she was an angel!” (261).

First of all, Flaubert says that Emma awakened his desires, not his emotions or his love. This indicates to me that it has developed into a form of lust rather than of love. Also, she is a figure shrouded in his memories from a past part of his life, so it is like he is trying to recall these memories and relive them, rather than build toward the future.

The next part that calls her a heroine brings me back to the question I posed a few posts back about why Emma was called a heroine of literature on the back cover of the book. I think what Flaubert is saying here is that she is a desire of many men, so she is a heroine to them because they admire her very much. Also, she is often an unattainable figure, so the men all strive to be with her. This can also be seen in the fact that he describes her as the “she” in poetry because a lot of love poems just say ‘her’ and do not indicate who they are directed towards. This implies that the common person would muse over her, and she is the epitome of what the ideal woman would be.

I didn’t understand the other allusions in this passage, so I was wondering if you guys could help me out. Other than the fact that Léon thinks of her as an angel, the other references didn’t click for me. The angel reference suggests that there is something divine about her that only God could have created someone like her. So, if you guys have any comment about those other allusions, like the “Gathing Odalisque” or “Pale Woman of Barcelona,” they would be much appreciated, because I’m still trying to figure out what Flaubert is saying about love as a whole through the novel.

michelle p 6 said...

To address Meaghan’s posts, I completely agree with the nativity of Emma. I think falling for Rodolphe’s misguided and adulterous intentions “So taking handfuls of the mixed-up letters, he amused himself for some moments with letting them fall in cascades from his right into his left hand. At last, bored and weary, Rodolphe took back the box to the cupboard, saying to himself ‘What a lot of rubbish!’ Which summed up his opinion” (179) was unwise of her but more importantly, the fact that at the end of Part Two, the reader is lead to believe that she will have another affair with Leon, as if she didn’t figure out its hardships with Rodolphe.

The fact that she is so desperate for this love, though Charles has given it time and time again by providing for her, and though the town she lives in adores her and caters to her constantly, and not to mention her child, Berthe, who as a child, loves her mother unconditionally nevertheless; despite these comforts that a woman usually finds solace in, Emma craves for more and manipulates whomever she can along the way. She uses Charles and all he provides for her and still asks for more, she is inconsistent with her love for her child, hitting her one minute and showering her with attention the next, and giving Leon and Rodolphe the cold shoulder whenever she pleases.

Because of these aspects to Emma’s character that Flaubert unashamedly doesn’t try to justify (do any of you have any ideas as to why?), I agree with Meaghan in that I don’t believe that Emma is the protagonist to the story, but also I don’t understand why, since most of the narration falls under her character and Charles is a prominent character only when Emma falls sick “as if her body and soul were both resting together after all their troubles” (186).

I think that though what Emma does to Charles and her family is hurtful, I also understand that she wants to feel love and she did find that with Rodolphe. The break up took a toll on her both physically and mentally. She tried to be a better person by helping others and going to church, she was more into nurturing her child but I don’t understand why she falls sick so easily and constantly. It makes me question her credibility as well.

I look forward to begin reading Part Three and hopefully seeing all the characters find some justification, especially Charles because I have a soft spot for him!

sarah c 6 said...

Something from part two that I would like to talk about is Emma's sickness. None of the other characters understand what has really happened to her. After Rodolphe left her, she became very depressed. She wouldn't eat, drink, talk, walk, or do anything. She felt helpless, like her whole world came crashing down. I was surprised at how long Emma seemed to be "sick". It was a mysterious situationto all the other characters, but to Emma it was ery clear.

I do think that Emma loved Rodolphe. Her reaction was very rash. She allowed herself to be very vulnerable, therefore Rodolphe took adavantage of her and manipulated her. I was surprised by how attached she really was to Rodolphe. When she recieves his letter and goes to the attic, she wants to die. At one moment in the attic, Emma wanted to commit suicide. On page 179 it says, "She glanced around her, longing for the whole earth to crumble. Why not end it all? What was to stop her? She was free. She leaned forward, looked down at the pavement and said to herself, 'Go ahead! Go ahead!'" When I read this, I was very surprised. I could not believe that Emma really thought her life was bad enough that she would want to commit suicide.

When this whole situation happened, I was a little confused because I was unsure why Flaubert put this into the book. When Emma was "sick", Charles took such good care of her. She just could not love Charles in the way which she desires to seek love. So, after thinking about this whole situation, I wanted to know why Flaubert put this in the book, What is the significance, Why did he have Emma act this way?

Meaghan S6 said...

So, I just finished the book, and I have to say, WOW! There were so many twists and turns at the end, and I couldn’t believe how successfully Flaubert fooled me. I didn’t expect half of what happened!

Now that I’ve gotten my amazement out of the way, I’d advise that if you haven’t finished, stop reading this post so that I don’t ruin the end. However, I want to continue posting, so I’ll answer Sarah’s question and then off I go to the end-ish of the book…

To address Sarah’s question, I think Flaubert wants to build up this struggle between Emma and Charles. Emma tied her emotions and feelings for Rodolphe so deeply into her everyday life that she physically could not stand to lose him. Charles deeply loves her, yet she pushes him away. So, to build this tension for an event that is going to happen later.

This leads me to the first passage that I want to bring up. It is the last paragraph of Chapter 7 in Part Three. “Emma made no reply. She was gasping and staring wildly around her; the peasant woman, frightened by her face, stepped back instinctively, thinking she had gone mad. Suddenly she clapped her hand to her forehead and uttered a cry, for the memory of Rodolphe had just burst into her mind like a great flash of lightening in a dark night. He was so good, so sensitive, so gorgeous! And even if he should hesitate to help her she could easily make him change his mind by reminding him with a single glance of their lost love. And so she set out for La Huchette, not realizing that she was now rushing off to offer herself to the same thing that had made her so furious only a short time before, totally unaware that she was about to prostitute herself” (304).

I think this could tie into Sarah’s comments because while Emma is in a crisis about where to find money to pay off her debt, she finally digs down into her soul to the one person she never thought she would see again: Rodolphe. It hit her so hard that she could feel it, so I think she was holding back feelings about him, but the fact that she says she is going to ‘prostitute herself’ implies that she no longer has feelings for him and is going to see him purely out of need of money.

This leads me to another passage, her reaction to Rodolphe refusing to give her the money:

“But I would have given you everything, I’d have sold everything, worked with my hands, begged in the streets, just for a smile or a look, just to hear you say ‘thank you.’ And you sit there calmly in your chair, as if you hadn’t made me suffer enough already!...You made me believe it: you led me on for two years in a sweet, wonderful dream…” (307-308).

I think it’s very interesting how Emma finally voices her opinion about how much Rodolphe hurt her. She normally keeps everything inside, but to see her explode in desperation was kind of relieving to me because this is the first time we actually see Emma’s personality and her ability to stand up for herself. What do you guys think this means to the plot and to what Flaubert is trying to accomplish with the book?

Michelle said...

Since I have not reached the ending, I skimmed through Meagan’s post to make sure that the prediction I was about to make wasn’t going to be repetitive.
Based on Sarah’s post about all the sicknesses that Emma falls under and my own understanding of the book so far, I have a feeling that Emma will commit suicide at the end of the book. I don’t know if she’ll do it dramatically or in a subtle way, but I do feel that is the way the book will end.
Emma has made many references to her dull life and how she wanted something better. When Rodolphe left, she considered suicide. “She was right at the edge, almost hanging, surrounded by vast space. The blue of the heavens suffused her, the air was whirling in her hollow head; she had to yield to let herself be taken; and the humming of the lathe never ceased, like an angry voice calling her” (182). I think that the “vast space” is a reference to her marriage with Charles and how she believes that it will continue to remain a stolid basis in her life that she will continue to ignore. “At the unexpected shock of this phrase falling on her thought like a leaden bullet on a silver plate, Emma, shuddering, raised her head in order to find out what he meant to say; and they looked at the other in silence, almost amazed to see each other, so far sundered were they by their inner thoughts.” (164).
Through the many relationships and affairs I see Emma having, I feel that she will always blame Charles, though he has done nothing wrong but love her. This, I don’t see changing, therefore, I see Emma believing that the only way out would be to kill herself. This is a harsh prediction and it’s a bit weary, but I wanted to see what you guys thought as well.

Meaghan S6 said...

ANOTHER SPOILER WARNING!!! Read no further if you have not finished!

Well, Michelle, you’re right on! That is exactly what I wanted to discuss here. I thought it was interesting that Emma chose arsenic poisoning as her method of killing herself because I’ve seen on crime shows (they’re my favorite) that women are more likely to resort to poison for murder/suicide because their nature is to create the least mess and the least chance to have it traced back to them. Sure, it’s stereotypical, but in Emma’s case it holds true. I just thought that was slightly interesting.

Moving on, I want to say first and foremost that unlike Michelle, I couldn’t catch on to the idea of Emma committing suicide. I was completely unaware that it would happen because even thought Emma was so lost and unable to find herself, I saw her as determined to get what she wanted. Taking her own life was the “easy” way out, and I feel a little disappointed now because I always hoped she would overcome her outlandish ways. I guess this is really why she is called a tragic heroine. She had her downfall and I was wondering what you guys feel it actually was. Pride? Fear? Shame? Inability to persevere? Let me know what you think.

There is a passage, though, that I want to bring up about the last few hours of her life. Charles finally finds out what she’s done to herself, and he asks:

“Why? What made you do it?”
“I had to, my dear,” she answered.
“Weren’t you happy? Is it my fault? I did everything I could!”
“Yes…that’s true…You’ve always been good!”
She slowly passed her hands through his hair. The sweetness of her touch brought his grief to a climax; he felt his whole being collapsing in despair at the thought of having to lose her just when she was confessing more love for him than ever before. And he could think of nothing to do; he no longer knew anything or dared to try anything: the need for immediate action had thrown him into a state of utter bewilderment" (313).

This moment is so bittersweet because it’s the one moment Emma is starting to realize how wonderful Charles was to her and what she missed out on while she went on all her escapades. When people are on the brink of death, the reality of what they’ve endured throughout their lives comes out, and Emma is spurred to admit her feelings. At this moment, I also realized that Charles’ fate is really tied to Emma’s. He lives his live solely to please her and take care of their child, as all of his actions are made to benefit the family as a whole. After Emma dies, I knew it was a moment of foreshadowing for Charles’ future.

sarah c 6 said...

I think that the prediction by Michelle, that Emma will commit suicide, is very good. Many things in the book foreshadow it. Emma pretty much starts off her marriage being miserable. Then she carries on her life in a state of depression. Emma is never truly satisfied. She is unsure of what she really wants in life, becuase when better things come to her she still finds them unsatisfying.Emma recieves many acts of kindness from others, but she is still not really happy with anything that anyone has to offer. Charles does so much for her. They move to a different city. They have a child. Emma gets very "sick" and depressed because of Rodolphe, and Charles trys his best to keep her healthy and happy.

Emma believes her life is over when Rodolphe, the best thing in her life at the time, leaves her. I think that even if Rodolphe had not left her, she would have ended up unhappy. When she has suicidal thoughts after Rodolphe goes, it foreshadows her fate in the end of the book. She already shows thoughts of suicide and signs of depression.

Emma thinks that she needs so much more than can be given to her, but the truth is that she just doesn't want to accept anything thats good for her. Emma has plenty of nice things and she knows a lot of great people but Emma strives for the high life. However, once she would actually make it there, she would look for bigger and better things still. So, I wonder why Flaubert makes this the fate of our character? I havent finished part three yet, so I am also wondering what will become of Charles and their daughter?

Katie S6 said...

So I just finished the book and all I can say is wow that’s not how I thought the story would end. I’m actually kind of upset over the ending I personally think Flaubert could have made it so much more enjoyable, seeing as the story was a good read. I feel he wrote Emma off too easy and then Charles had to die that was sad. Let me start from the beginning of part three.

I was so happy to see Leon come back into Emma’s life. His character is filled with so much passion towards Emma and I was really interested as to see how she would react to her lost love. As they say, absence makes the heart grow founder right? Indeed it did. One part I want to quote is when both lovers take the carriage ride to no where.

“From his seat the driver occasionally cast desperate glances at the taverns he passed. He could not imagine what mania for the movement was keeping these people from ever wanting to stop. He tried now and then, but there was always an immediate outburst of an angry exclamations behind him; he would lash his two sweating nags more vigorously and set off again, paying no attention to bumps in the road and sideswiping things here and there; he was indifferently to everything around him, demoralized and almost weeping from thirst, fatigue and despair.” (pg.211)

I chose this passage because I noticed that it was a little ironic how Leon made the driver just drive wherever and him and Emma not say anything about. This passage gives off a feeling a secret passions rolling around in the back of the carriage. I think symbolically this shows Leon and Emma crossing that line from friends in love to passionate lovers. Flaubert write an amazing chapter with just the descriptions of what they endure in that long carriage ride without actually giving the whole affair away.

However not all good things end in wonderful ways. I think Emma becomes greedy towards her love for Leon. She takes advantage of the way he cares about her just as Rodolphe does to her. It just shows how selfish Emma really is, especially when she becomes indebt she and she asks Leon to take money from his clients to help her out.

“How do you expect me to….”
“You’re acting like a coward!” she cried.
“Things aren’t as bad as you think,” he said stupidly. (pg.257)

How is Leon being a coward? Emma is the one who cannot be honest with her husband about the debt she has put her family into. Her character angers me on how she takes advantage of everyone in her life. She has no respect for her family and especially herself seeing as she has been apart of two different love affairs.
I loved when Emma went to see Monsieur Guillaumin to ask for more money and he basically said the only way she would receive money is if she gave herself to him. I think for Emma it’s a real slap in a face and that pretty much starts the real downfall she suffers leading to her death. It also shows that Emma is not as respected as she once thought, people know she’s involved in all these secret affairs so she is starting to give herself a real low name that she carries until the end.

I also want to point out when Charles finds Rodolphes note in the attics. His reaction, “Maybe they loved each other platonically.” (pg. 296) To the end Charles still refuses to consider the idea of Emma having an affair, even after her death. Either way she loved another man and it doesn’t affect him until he accepts the truth and then dies because of a broken heart. He reminds me of the blind prophet only he saw everything as appose to Charles which is ironic.

Speaking of death at Emma’s funeral I thought it was ironic how there was black coming out of her mouth. She’s in a white wedding dress which is suppose to symbolize the purity of marriage which she lacked most of the time and all of a sudden black emerges from her mouth which represents all the sinful affairs she had throughout the marriage.

I have a few questions I want to point out.
First is why do you think Flaubert ended the story that way he did?
And also what do you think of what happened to Berthe in the end being sent off to work in the cotton mill?

Meaghan S6 said...

Katie, I want to answer your question as to why Flaubert kills of Emma. We are told from the beginning that this story is a tragedy, which I did not believe up until the end. Emma digs herself into such a deep hole that there is no way to get out. She is overwhelmed by debt, consumed by the illegitimacy of her marriage, and unable to prioritize her life. She lets her greed and desire for wealth and pleasure take precedence over her family and the people who truly care about her. So, I feel that Flaubert had her commit suicide because it really exemplifies her weakness and her inability to face the consequences of the actions she makes during her life.

Anyways, I wanted to bring up a passage similar to one point Katie made about the black coming from Emma’s mouth after she dies:

“Emma’s head was turned toward her right shoulder. The corner of her mouth, which remained open, was like a black hole at the bottom of her face; both thumbs were bent inward toward the palms; her eyelashes were sprinkled with a kind of white dust; and her eyes were beginning to disappear in a viscous pallor that was like a fine web, as though spiders had been spinning on her face. The sheet sagged from her breasts to her knees, rising again at the tips of her toes; and it seemed to Charles that in infinite mass, an enormous weight, was pressing down on her” (325).

This passage, Flaubert’s imagery of Emma’s corpse, was probably the most intense scene for me. I don’t know how many of you (besides Katie) have seen The Lord of the Rings movies or read the books, but this description reminded me of The Return of the King when Shelob stabs Frodo and wraps him in her web, and Sam stumbles along and finds Frodo and thinks he’s dead. The way Frodo looked at that moment, pale white with a vague look in his eyes wrapped in the web, completely reminds me of this imagery. Though Frodo wasn’t really dead and Emma was, Sam really believed Frodo was dead. So, this imagery of being eaten by a spider (very creepy) might symbolize the realization that a loved one is dead, because right after this scene, it finally sinks in for Charles that Emma is gone. (Did anyone else notice the use of the word viscous in that passage, because I did =])

I’m not sure what I think happened to Berthe in the factory, but it seems that she’s suffering the repercussions of her parents’ poor decisions. She’s paying for their actions because they couldn’t handle life anymore and chose to leave it all behind. I honestly don’t think Emma or Charles took Berthe into account in any decision they made, especially to take their own lives. She was never a priority for them, and I was wondering why you guys thought Berthe was the last person to be thought of, when parents, no matter how inept they may be, normally put their children first?

michelle p 6 said...

My biggest question after reading this all, is why do you guys think Flaubert centers the book around Monseuir Homais around the end? "Since Bovary's death three doctors have followed one another at Yonville without any sucess, so severely did Homais attack them. He has an enormous practice; the authorities treat him with consideration, and public opinion protects him. He has just received the cross of the Legion of Honour" (309)
And that's the end of the book, as if the Bovary's were never mentioned?
My personal thought, after now considering the book in hindsight, is that Flaubert uses Homais to portray the way that the townspeople forgot and moved from the Bovary deaths, and even in some ways, disrespected them.

I understand the betrayals Emma had cast on her husband, family, and the townspeople, but I don't know why they would treat Charles in the same manner. "Felicite now wore Madame Bovary's gowns; not all, for he had kept some of then, and he went to look at them in her dressing-room, locking himself up there; she was about her height, and often Charles, seeing her from behind, was seized with an illusion, and cried out: 'Oh stay, stay!' But at Whitsuntide she ran away from Yonville, carried off by Theodore, stealing all that was left of the wardrobe" (302)

They also sent Charles' daughter to work in a cotton-mill and at the end, it is all about Homais.
This makes me question who was the real tragic hero? Emma, never really vindicated in my mind, Charles, or even weirder, Homais, the main character as the book ends?

I also find it interesting that woman choose poision as a way to keep the suicide less "messy" when in fact, this can be the opposite. "She soon began vomiting blood. Her lips had became drawn. Her limbs were convulsed, her whole body covered with brown spots, and her pulse slipped beneath the fingers like a stretched thread, like a hard-string on the point of breaking" (283).

It does not surprise me, however, that both Charles and Emma die in the novel, though I wish Flaubert hadn't summarized their lives so quickly towards the end, as to hint at the indifference.
Emma lived for herself and Charles live for Emma, and I also find it sad that their daughter was not ever taken under consideration.
I think even she may be the tragic hero, for her suffers her childhood and any opportunity at a better life.
Hopefully she doesn't fall under the unrealistic dreaming of her mother.

Katie S6 said...

Meaghan i love that you just brought up the Lord of the Rings. I was watching it sunday night too and it made me think back to 8th grade. good times.

anyways. I want to answer Meaghan's question about children coming first and why Charles and Emma forget to do that for Berthe. I think the reason why Berthe was rarely thought of was because she was no consumed by love. Meaning she was brought into the world with a loving mother and father which you can connect to everyday soeciety when some children are born to parents who cannot provide them the care they need. I think Berthe was used by Flaubert to symbolize Emma and Charles' failing relationship. Berthe was so neglected and unloved that i couldn't help but think of the marriage. At times when they needed to make the partnership work it worked and then when it wasn't around they didn't care for it.

what do you guys think?!

Meaghan S6 said...

I completely agree with Michelle; Flaubert ends the novel quite abruptly and almost sweeps Charles and Emma under the rug. I think he does this and concludes with Homias toward the end because the reader can get a good sense of what the town is feeling as a whole through him. The town just seems to go on as usual, and I think that Flaubert is trying to show the reader that even though the Bovary family endured so many hardships and so much pain and confusion, life will continue to endure regardless. After Emma dies, Charles is forced back into the routine of life, suggesting that the world will not stop for him to grieve and that he needs to continue on. Maybe this is similar to the situation at the end. Flaubert might be hinting at the insignificance of an individual life in comparison to the greater good here, but I might just be a little cynical.

I also thought it was a little insensitive that Berthe was just sent off to work without so much as thought into what she’s feeling without her parents. I think in this way, Flaubert may also be emphasizing that feeling of insignificance because Berthe is never discussed in detail after she sees her mother for the last time. It’s almost as if the entire family disintegrated after Emma died; she really was the common thread that held it together, despite her adulterous actions. She kept Charles close because he was so in love with her, and she paid attention to her daughter only when it suited her. However, Charles would continue to love her and Berthe would always call for her mother, so in essence, without Emma, the Bovary family ceases to exist.

What other themes have you guys seen throughout the book? I’d be curious to see if anything you guys got was similar to what I related to or found in the story. Can you guys relate to Emma or any of the characters? Out of sympathy? Pity? Empathy?

sarah c 6 said...

When I finished part three, I was really surprised with all the crazy stuff that happened all at once. I was unsure why all these terrible events happened at once, but then again it was building up to the climax. In the beginning of part three, Emma is continuing her affair with Leon. One day that she has gone to visit him and comes back, she finds out that the pharmacist has apparently called for her. This is a part I would like to discuss because two things about it intrigue me.

When Emma goes to see the pharmacist he barely even notices that she is there. He is too busy yelling at Justin about going into his sacred depository. When Homais finally notices Emma, he forgets to say what he is supposed to in a polite way and just throws it out: elder Monsieur Bovary has died. It seems like Emma thinks about this for a few moments and may even feel bad, but then it seems as if she doesn’t really care that much.

The first thing I would like to talk about from this part is Emma’s reaction to the news. She doesn’t seem to care too much. She is thinking of other things. When she comes home, she does not console Charles the way she should. This makes me feel a little frustrated because Charles always tries to console Emma to the best of his abilities, but she does not do the same for him. Charles is wrong in thinking that Emma feels so sad and is rejecting him due to her sadness. It is Charles’ father that has died, but he is still trying to console Emma. It shows how much he really does love her, but she doesn’t seem to care.

Now I would like to talk about the pharmacist. I want to make a connection between this part and the ending of the book. In this part we see that Homais is a hothead and seems to only really care about himself and his “science”. I feel that Homais is very self-centered and arrogant. I personally dislike his character very much. I think that Homais thinks that he is better than everyone else. Homais has a lot to say about other people and subjects, like religion and money, but he seems to think that he can do no wrong. In the end of the book, Homais seems to not really care about Emma’s death. He is more interested in being recognized by these famous doctors. He is only thinking of himself and how he can benefit from the situation, even though it is a tragedy. I’m not sure why Flaubert decides to focus on Homais in the end, but I do know that there is a connection between Homais and Emma. Emma always wanted to be on top and be the best with the best; Homais already thinks he is one of the best.

Meaghan S6 said...

Well, I wanted to comment on the essays so that I could finish my blogs, but if you guys still need to finish discussing the end of the book, ignore me for now.

I was reading Flaubert’s journal entries/letters in the first section, and the way he writes about his own life is exactly how I pictured his thoughts in my mind. He asks, “Have you ever listened attentively to people talking a foreign language which you did not understand? That is the state I’m in. Because I want to understand everything, everything is a mystery. And yet it seems to me that this wonder is not foolishness. The bourgeois, for example, is for me something infinite. You cannot imagine how the horrible disaster of Monville affected me. For a thing to be interesting, you need only look at it for a long time” (354).

The incident in Monville occurred when a tornado devastated the town, but I thought it was interesting to compare Flaubert’s personality to Emma. He seems very curious about anything he can get his hands on, which reminds me of Emma at the beginning of the book because she had the subscription to the lending library and wanted to read at every opportunity that she could get. In a way, by abandoning those feelings she had as a young adult, Emma’s change in personality represents the impact society has on an individual. The fact that Flaubert is so aware of society and what is happening around him truly portrays him as a worldly mind, and I think this is why he was able to describe Emma and the effects society has on her so well, because he is able to understand how these effects actually impact a person’s life.

sarah c 6 said...

After Emma's death, Charles is very sad, but he seems to be the only one. Flaubert does not focus on Charles as much as I thought he would after Emma's death. Flaubert focuses more on Homais and the townspeople than he does the main characters in the end. After Emma's death, a few things happened that surprised me, but some event I had expected to occur.

Something that surprised me was Felicite's rudeness. I could not believe that Felicite would steal all of Emma's wardrobe. Felicite seemed like a nice and caring person. To steal from someone shows great disrespect. Felicite stole from the dead, that implies to me that she is both disrespectful and coldhearted. She does not care how this could affect Charles' state and does not care that she has disrespected the dead. She shows dishonor to Emma, even if she is dead.

I was not surprised that not many of the townspeople still cared much about Emma's death once everything was over. They all have lives of their own and they must live them. Charles thinks that because he still mourns over Emma, others should also. This is not true, Emma was not a big part of their lives like she was in Charles'. He wants to talk to people about her and try to remember her, but the other people are thinking about their own problems and don't really pay much attention. Charles should gop on with his life, but he can't because he doesn't want to. His depression and drawn oput reaction to Emma's death does not surprise me; I expected him to react this way.

Meaghan S6 said...

The other entry into Flaubert’s journal that I found fascinating is on page 364 of my book:

“I’ve sent five days writing one page, last week, and I had put aside everything else to write – Greek, English; I did only that. What torments me in my book is the comic element, which is mediocre. There is a lack of event. I myself hold that ideas are events. It is more difficult to make ideas interesting, I know, but then the style is to blame. I now have fifty consecutive pages in which there is not a single event. It is a sustained portrait of a bourgeois life and an inactive love; a love which is all the more difficult to describe because it is both timid and profound, but alas! without inner turmoil, because my gentleman is of quiet nature,” (364).

I thought this was so interesting and intriguing. He is so heavily criticizing his own work, feeling as though it is not up to par or not as he desires. I was surprised he would mention an attempt to have a comic element in this book; I don’t think I can find a single instant where I thought the ideas or events in the book were comical. There were a few places where I chuckled about what a character said, but I didn’t find the situation funny overall. Maybe this means he’s trying to mock these love affairs between married people, because the reader should see the humor in Emma being stuck in between two men whom she doesn’t even know if she loves.

The way Flaubert defines event is very different than most because he sees ideas as events. A good portion of the novel is devoted to emotions and feelings, so in essence what he is saying makes sense, but the overarching ideas are enough to run the entire course of the book.

I think I may have figured out what Flaubert is trying to say about love thanks to this passage. He says that the love experiences that Emma and Charles go through almost cannot be described, and all throughout the novel, I questioned to myself that Flaubert was trying to leave a message about the unpredictability, senselessness, and irrationality of love. Therefore, the fact that Flaubert himself could not describe the love relationships within the book suggests that love is a very large grey area; nothing is as simple as black or white.

The last interesting thing about this part of his journal was that he describes Charles as of “quiet nature.” When he’s with Emma, doting on her and fulfilling her every wish, he doesn’t seem very docile to me. Maybe it is just the love he has in his heart for Emma that makes him act that way in front of her, but by doing it in a passive way (typically buying her things), I can see why Flaubert would say that.

sarah c 6 said...

Charles' death was not a shock to me. I figured that he would die in the end. He finds out about Emma's affairs and her secret life, and it makes him even more depressed. When he realizes what had been really going on throughout their marriage, he becomes more sad than anything else. He finds out that the love of his life apparently didn't feel the same. I thought it was strange that when he saw Rodolphe, he was not very angry, he just seemed sad. I think that this was the beginning of the events that led up to his breaking point.

When Charles started to do things like Emma, I knew it could only turn out worse. He signs promissory notes, borrows and handles money that he does not have, and trys to sell all he has for money. Charles does not dare to touch Emma's things though. He wants to preserve some of her for himself to have, because he can not see her.

When Charles stops leaving the house, it indicates to me that he would soon die. He is in a great state of depression. He brings Berthe to the cemetary every night to try and keep the memory of Emma. This is very unhealthy for both of them, even though Berthe may not know what is going on. It is very unhealthy for Charles' depressed mind. Charles becomes worse and worse and stops paying attention to everyone. When he dies, I was a little confused because I was unsure of the cause. I think he comitted suicide also, but was that the way he died?

sarah c 6 said...

Something in part three that agitated me was the lack of attention for little Berthe. I feel that it is unfair to her that her parents, and not many others, paid very little attention to her. She was not well cared for. Her father shows her attention towards the end, but it is because she is all he has left; all he has left of Emma.

In the last chapter there is a quote that bothers me a little bit because Berthe is left in the dark about what is really going on. "The next day Charles had Berthe back to the house. She asked for her mother and was told that she had gone away on a trip and would bring her back some toys." Then Berthe begins to forget about her mother. I think it is cruel to not tell Berthe what really happened, even though she is young, because she will have to find out about it later anyways. She is expecting her mother back, with toys for her. Little does she know that soon enough she will never see her parents again. She deserves much better.

Another quote that made me think was, "It pained him, poor man, to see her so shabbily dressed, with her unlaced shoes and her smock torn from the armhole to the waist, for the cleaning woman took no care of her." It is sad that the cleaning woman does not help in taking better care of Berthe, but it is even more sad that her own father doesn't. Its interesting because Charles is the one that is supposed to be taking care of his daughter, not the cleaning woman.

Berthe's mother never really paid much attention to her and she ends up committing suicide. Later on, she finds her father dead. They never gave her very much, but now she really had nothing. There was nothing left to be given to her, all money was spent and everything was gone. Berthe ends up poor and living with a distant aunt. She has to work in a factory to help support the family. Nobody was very good to Berthe in life, and she deserved so much more.

sarah c 6 said...

When I read the Biography Skethch and some of the first essay, I see many parallells betwen Flaubert and his lifestyle and the book. Charles and Emma don't have a happy ending to their life, and it doesn't seem like Flaubert did either. Flaubert was short on money, like Charles and Emma. He was probably not as happy with his successes in life as he thought he would be.

Flaubert was said to make the first blow to romanticim with "Madame Bovary". I'm not sure if he really was the first to do it, but he deffinitely did make a blow to romanticism. It talks about affairs, hardships, and tragedy caused by love. Love causes both of the main characters to commit suicide. The book shows that loe is not always sweet, and it does not always have a happy ending. Love can be very harsh and it can trigger people to do ver rash things.

I think it was good that Flaubert wrote the novel the way he did. Whether it was the first blow to romanticism or not, it is good for people to see a different side of love. It shows a little more reality because love can really cause these kinds of tragedies, and people should know that. Some may think that this book may seem harsh, but I think it is good that it is written this way because people need to see more than just happy endings. Showing different ways of love and different outcomes is good for people to read about. Even though events like the ones in "Madame Bovary" were more uncommon in earlier times, they are becoming more and more common in modern life. People should see different sides to views and ideas; it can help expand their knowledge and give them more light into many different experiences that can occur.

Mr. G said...

Well done all. To add just a touch to some of your questions—Flaubert has a quote, “I write for two reasons: Love of Literature and hatred of the bourgeois”. Does that add anything to the end of your discussion? & on a side note Oedipus means ‘Clubfoot’—thought you might be interested in that tidbit.