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Comparison Of The House Of The Spirits And Madame Bovary

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The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert are two excellent works of literature. Both stories have differences that are backed by their storylines and cultural differences, but can be compared through the similarities and dichotomies portrayed by the wives and husbands of both families. The wives provide the driving force that advances the storylines while the husbands add support to the novels.

In The House of the Spirits, Allende forms a family using characters of very different backgrounds and who have opposing personalities. The same can be easily said of Madame Bovary in which Flaubert gives life to a small, middle-class family that come from very different pasts. At the heart of both of these families lie the mothers, Clara and Emma. Clara is a reserved woman who cares for her family, yet is also very wise. Emma, on the other hand, pushes her family away as they are obstacles that hold her back from achieving a true, romantic life that exists only in her mind; "Before she married, she thought she was in love; but the happiness that should have resulted from that love, somehow had not come. It seemed to her that she must have made a mistake, have misunderstood in some way or another. And Emma tried hard to discover what, precisely, it was in life that was denoted by the words 'joy, passion, intoxication', which had always looked so fine to her in books." She also makes very poor decisions and is slow to think of the consequences of her actions. However, both of these women are what hold the families together. They provide bonds between family members as well as the acquaintances of those members. Without this bond, the story would not be able to progress because there would be no ties keeping the characters of the story together.

This bond is broken near the end of both The House of the Spirits and Madame Bovary when Clara and Emma die. Once this happens, the connections between the other members of the family deteriorate. This is made evident when Charles forces himself to accept the fact that Emma cheated on him many times, causing him to dive into a deep depression which contributed to his premature death. "And thinking he was having a game with her, she gave him a little push. He fell to the ground. He was dead." As a result, his daughter had to work in a cotton mill. When Clara died, the family started drifting away from each other, either by moving away or by passing away. In the end, the only ones that stayed together were Esteban Trueba and Alba. As we can clearly see by these examples, Clara and Emma's roles as mothers and wives were very important to the stories because they kept the family members and characters together, thus allowing the interactions between the characters and the plot moving forward.

Another similarity shared between the families is the husbands. Both Esteban and Charles are emotionally unstable. Esteban, for example, not only has a very short temper, but is sexually insecure. The latter was an effect of the death of his fiancйe, Rosa, until he married Clara, who filled his emotive void. Charles also had an unsettled personality which was a result of being rejected by his peers when he was a child. As a result, he would not let Emma go because she is the closest thing that he had to a true soul mate. When Emma was cheating on Charles, he would convince himself that she was still faithful to him and that nothing bad was happening to their relationship. However, Emma did not respect Charles in the least. This resentment is also shared between Esteban and Clara; Esteban had a passion for Clara, but she ignored him to the point where she forced them to share a bedroom no longer, just as Emma and Charles did not share a room. Both Esteban and Charles died peaceful deaths at the end of the stories

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