Madame Bovary is about the life of Emma Bovary whose unhappy marital life has thrust her into illegitimate relationships with other men. Emma’s character serves to stand for the women of 19th century who found themselves in the web of unhappy life from which they failed to free themselves. The dominant theme of the novel is about the search of a woman for true happiness and independence but the irony of the novel is that she is deceived by the interplay of illusion and reality.
Emma Bovary struggles to free herself from the conventions of the society through escapades in illusionary world and relationships which give her nothing in return. Emma’s character is criticized as that of a lustful woman but the way the author of the novel portrays and treats her is as important as the interpretation of the critics. The attitude of the author, however, has a considerable impact on the reader’s perception of Emma’s character and the readers come to see the character of Emma through the eyes of Flaubert. The novel is an admixture of ‘rebellion, violence, melodrama and sex, expertly combined in a compact plot’ (Llosa). What Flaubert thinks of his heroine is clear with his statement, ‘Madame Bovary, C’est Moi?’ that implies that he can never think to imagine of the sufferings of Emma (Zarin).
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