Gustave Flaubert

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Madame Bovary

Flaubert, Gustave

Last Updated: Feb-22-2000
Annotated by:
Moore, Pamela

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel


Charles Bovary is a country physician who, after an unhappy first marriage, marries the daughter of a patient. Emma is eager to leave her father's dirty farm but finds marriage to be less romantic and satisfying than she expected. Charles is not a prince, but a bumbling, aging man. Even when at work he performs more like a veterinarian than a skilled surgeon. Indeed, when he and the local chemist attempt a new procedure on a clubfoot, the patient gets gangrene and loses his leg.

Disgusted, Emma develops a relationship with Leon Dupuis, a young lawyer. She refuses to sleep with him but regrets it after he leaves town. She then meets Rodolphe Boulanger, a wealthy landowner who seduces Emma to pass the time. They have a brief if passionate affair.

When Boulanger abandons her, Emma returns to Leon, this time giving in to their mutual passion. Her affair has an air of desperation. She soon exhausts her limited funds on trips to visit her lover and love gifts. Knowing that her husband will discover her affair when their financial situation is revealed, Emma overdoses on arsenic and dies miserably.

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