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What Ever French Women Had, Madame Bovary Had More

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When Gustave Flaubert finished and released Madame Bovary in 1857 no one knew the uproar such a novel would bring. The novel was filled with illicit affairs, child neglect and suicide. Flaubert was even brought to trail for writing what many thought at the time was a vulgar book, and an outrage against public morals and customs. Now as time has gone by people can read the book and appreciate how open Flaubert was with the immoral activities that so many people where taking part in, yet to closed minded to discuss in public. Two main themes that are evident in Madame Bovary are adultery, and child neglect. Flaubert through his writing was able to paint a picture of what provincial life was like.

Not all of the events of Madame Bovary are made up. Flaubert knew of a couple, the Delamare's, and he thought that their scandalous lives would make a great subject for a book. Many of the story points in the book are based off of events that he had experienced himself. Eugene Delamare was a less then mediocre doctor who was not able to pass all his medical exams, and ended working for Flaubert's dad. Eugene's first marriage was to a widow who died soon after. Next he married a young girl only seventeen or eighteen, who was the beautiful daughter of a nearby farmer, Madame Delamare had attended a convent and loved to throw her imagination into romantic novels. Once married, she became bored and spent too much many on clothes and decorations and took several lovers. Madame Delamare was so full of herself that she even made the maids call her 'her prettiness". Soon Madame Delamare fell in to deeper boredom and debt and thought it best to poison herself. Eugene was so heart broken about what his wife had done that he killed himself and the life his young daughter was to live in poverty the rest of her life.

Adultery like in the Delamare's life is a key theme of Madame Bovary. In the book it is not only Madame Bovary who commits acts of some form of adultery. Charles is guilty of lusting after Emma while he is still married to his first wife, Madame Dubuc. It is not until Madame Dubuc dies that Charles made a move to marry Emma. He did not in the traditional sense have an affair, but his heart was untrue to his wife up to her untimely death. Charles had impure intentions with Emma from the start. Charles was untrue to his wife and her memory.

Emma though commits acts of worse adultery then Charles. Emma soon got bored in her marriage to Charles. She found out soon that marriage and love was not like the romance novels that she had read and pictured her life being like since she was a young girl. All the little things about Charles began to drive her crazy, even the way he slurped his soup drove her up a wall. She began to hate him more and more with each passing day. Emma would not even let Charles touch her, and by the end of the novel they did not even share the same bed. Emma had not one but two adulterous affairs. She even thought about running away with Rodolphe, and leaving Charles. With the affairs came debt from splurging on lavish gifts for her lovers.

In Madame Bovary Flaubert uses children to reflect the consequences of parent's actions. Emma thought that having a child would bring her purpose and joy. She becomes pregnant not to long after getting married. She prayed for a baby boy, and fainted when she the baby girl is born. After she gave birth the reality of having a baby sank in and she hated her daughter, Berthe. It is not but shortly after the birth of Berthe that Emma begins the affairs. Emma thought that she was ugly and stupid; she had a maid take care of Berthe so she would not have to. Berthe suffers from these affairs, with Leon and Rodolphe, later on in her life. Madame Bovary longed for a son. He would be strong and dark, and she would call him George. This idea that she might have a male child was sort of anticipatory compensate for the lack of man that Charles was. If she had had a son she would probably been less likely to have affairs.

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