Friday, 16 March 2012

Are you bored to death with the old man?

Madame Bovary , by Gustave Flaubert
I used to think this was a novel about a woman with incredibly bad luck with men, but now I think differently.
When we first meet Emma, she is bored to death living with her dad, although he is wealthy enough to provide a very comfortable home and lifestyle.  When she meets her future husband, she’s ‘really not that into’ him, but she sees a marriage to him as a possible escape for the boredom she endures at home.
After the wedding she is disappointed over the lack of fireworks in her marriage.  "Do you know, Charles, why that clock strikes? To announce the death of another hour", she glumly remarks to her husband, who's under the illusion they have a happy marriage. 

She develops a roving eye, both for other men and more luxurious circumstances.  Like many bored, upperclass housewives, she attempts to fill the emotional void with purchases.  Lots and lots of purchases.  The men she drifts towards are as non-committal as she, and she deeply resents them for that.
Flaubert gives many clues for the emotional bankruptcy of Emma and her male friends, but it’s not for me to point them out.  Read it and see how she could have looked at her life differently, and perhaps you will discover some answers for yourself. 

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