Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Madame Bovary

I finished Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert a few days ago, but I've taken my time to digest the story, instead of writing this review in a torrent of passion. This is another classic that I have read as part of the 2012 Classics Challenge in which I'm participating.
   The story wasn't was I was expecting at all. I only picked it up due to a review on the First Tuesday Book Club. I thought it would be more flippant and romantic. Instead it is harrowing and tragic.

I don't view Madame Bovary as a heroine. I tend to think of the main characters as heros and heroines when I like them. I think of them as protagonists when they antagonise me! Madame Bovary was antagonistic. She must have been mentally ill - either bi-polar disorder or antisocial personality disorder. I didn't feel anguish for her, which I know I was meant to - I was just incredibly frustrated at her emotionally immature she was!!!
   Madame Bovary is a very modern woman. She is extremely vain and materialistic. She wants to be loved, but doesn't know how to love. She reminds me of women who admire the characters in Sex and the City. Don't get me wrong - I love Sex and the City, but I know that it is not a true reflection of single life in New York. Women who admire and want the life depicted in Sex and the City are not realistic - they don't realise how hollow and lonely that life would actually be.
   Madame Bovary didn't have Sex and the City, clearly, because she lived in rural France in the 1850s. But she did have fiction, and she escaped into a fictional world. She thought that love was a contrived romantic passion. She lived her life striving for something (love) which she actually always had. On her death-bed, I'm not sure if she even realised how much her husband loved her. And those men whom she had affairs with, who apparently loved her so much, didn't even blink an eye or suffered a sleepless night when she died. She was a foolish woman - shallow and self-centred.
   This must be a good novel, to still get me riled up, even after a few days of having finished it ...
   Gustave Flaubert was brilliant for his time, and very modern himself. Very perceptive to write such a modern novel with issues that are still relevant over 150 years later.


  1. I was surprised at how different this book was from what I thought it would be. I expected much the same as you, but then found it to be quite a dark comedy. I loved it!

  2. Hi. He had to defend himself in court, concerning the subject matter of this book. Because it seemed as if he wanted others to condone Bovary's actions. He won the trial. Because he got them to see that his goal was to elicit compassion and grace for the individual who had to find value in illusion. She was misguided, and stepped outside her role as the wife of a decent man. But in the end, it was a case of human frailty and but for the grace of God, there go I. In fact my judgement without compassion could end up being, circumstantially a snare to me. Thank you.for your Blog.