The story of Emma commences as she is married to Charles Bovary who is a physician. Charles undergoes an unhappy marital life before Emma where ‘his wife was a master’ (Flaubert 10). The author treats the character of Emma with a delicacy and sensitivity as she is presented as a romantic woman whose dreams are devastated as soon as she realizes that her choice to marry a physician was fatuous, ‘What exasperated her was that Charles did not seem to notice her anguish. His conviction that he was making her happy seemed to her an imbecile insult and his sureness on this point ingratitude’ (Flaubert 101). It seems that the author himself sympathyzes with Emma and wants to capture the reader’s attention towards her pitiful condition that is an excuse for the life she chose for herself.
Another dominant theme of the novel is the interplay of illusion and reality which makes Emma to take decisions for her life. The callousness of her husband pushes her towards rebellion and she asks, ‘for whose sake, then was she virtuous?’ (Flaubert 101). Emma finds escape in lascivious affairs with Leon Dupius and Rodolphe Boulanger. She ‘could not think that the calm in which she lived was the happiness she had dreamed’ (Flaubert 35). The sad fact is that Charles realizes his wife’s worth in his life after her death. Even when he has discovered the love letter of Rodolphe he admits that everyone ‘must have adored her’ and ‘all men assuredly must have coveted her’ (Flaubert 342).
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