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The Tragedy Of Emma Bovary

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The Tragedy of Emma Bovary

"I've never been so happy!" Emma squealed as she stood before the mirror. " Let's go out on the town. I want to see Chorus and the Guggenhiem and this Jack Nicholson character you are always talking about." Emma Bovary in Woody Allen's The Kugelmass Episode.

As I sit here pondering the life of Emma Bovary I wonder what it must have really been like for her. She was young, younger than I am now when she died. She was curious and bright and probably would have been a great college student; passionate but with her head a little bit in the clouds. Opportunities for women in the 1850's were, as we all know, extremely limited. I wonder if I would have fared much better than Emma if I had been as trapped as her. I also married young, but when I realized it had been a mistake I had the option of a divorce, Emma did not. I have had the opportunity to receive a good education

and to choose for myself what path my life would take. I feel very sorry for Emma. Having never been given the opportunity to discover her true self or to develop her dreams and hopes for her future, all she had to base her aspirations on were trashy romance novels. I

cannot imagine what my life would be like if all of my teenage curiosity had been forced to be satisfied by nothing but Danielle Steel romance novels. Emma strove to better herself and her situation. She wanted to reach the upper echelon of society; she wanted what we in this country refer to as the "american dream." She wanted more than her parents had.

Emma wanted to feel great love and own nice things and live in a wonderful city. These are not things that are alien to most of us. Although it may be amusing to read Woody Allen's' #' 0*((a a '

take on what Emma Bovary might be like if she went to modern day New York, it must also be realized that he is not completely mistaken in his ideas of her character. In a very humorous manner, Woody Allen is able to sum up Emma's lust for life and her desire to experience and learn new things; to actually go out and live. Perhaps a trip such as the one described in Mr. Allen's short story would have been the thing to save Emma Bovary, although I doubt she would have ever wanted to go back to Yonville as she does in Allen's story. Emma Bovary is an unhappy, unfulfilled woman. Emma's tragedy is that she cannot

escape her own immanence. 'Everything including herself was unbearable to her,' But just as her walks always lead back to the detested house, so Emma feels thrown back into herself, left stranded on her own shore (Brombert 22). She constantly strives for experience and passion, but is continually restrained by a society that did not tolerate the growth,

education, and mature development of women. Emma was fortunate to have had any education at all in her day. Brought up in convent of the Ursuline order, she had received, as they say, a good education, "as a result,she knew dancing, geography, drawing, tapestry weaving, and piano playing (Flaubert 40). These are not exactly mind expanding subjects except perhaps for the geography (no offence meant toward piano players and tapestry weavers). Unfortunately, as we discover in Emma's case, a little education can be a dangerous thing. Once someone begins to learn they want to continue their education, so it was with Emma. She supplemented the education of the good sisters with one of her own, the dreaded romance novels. Emma's world has suddenly been opened to new possibilities. She now knows that

there is more to life than being a nun or a farmer's wife. Now she had learned that there could be more, there could be passion and excitement. Emma sought to learn what was really meant in life by the words "happiness," "passion," and "intoxication," "words that had

seemed so beautiful to her in books (Flaubert 55). Taking her jump from the romantic novels she read, Emma now strove to emulate the lives of these people who had, seemingly to her, a perfect existence or at the very least an exciting one. This was the only avenue of excitement that had been presented to Emma, so understandably this is what she chose to pursue in life. Emma does not begin her affairs because she was a nymphomaniac, but because she was looking for excitement, she wanted to really "live" life. Emma marries Charles because she wants to get off the farm. Her father also wants

to get her married off. Monsieur Roualt considered Emma to be of little help around the farm. Inwardly he forgave her, feeling that she was too intelligent for farming (Flaubert 45). Fortunately for women today if their father feels that they are too intelligent for farming,

that life in the country does not suit them, they can send their daughters to college or let them move to the city and find work. For Emma there was marriage to Charles, who unfortunately for both Emma and himself, was nothing like the romantic heroes

she had read

and fantasized about.

ÐŽ ÐŽLove seems impossible to Emma unless it appears with all the conventional signs which constitute a romantic



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