Madame Bovary: Emma\'s Unorthodox Behavior Due To Childhood




Madame Bovary: Emma\'s Unorthodox Behavior Due To Childhood


From earliest infancy, an individual\'s character is molded by experience.
In Gustave Flaubert\'s novel entitled Madame Bovary, Emma\'s unorthodox behavior
during her married life can be attriuted to the illusions she maintained about
life during her girlhood. These, combined with her father\'s disinterest in her
mental happiness become the force which eventually leads Emma Bovary to commit
suicide.
When she was 13 years old, Pere Rouault took his daughter, Emma, to town
to put her in a convent where she would receive an education. She received more
than her father bargained for. All that Emma later believed love should be, she
learned from books there, mostly from romance novels lent to her and the other
girls by an old maid who worked for the convent. In the fine pages of those
books, Emma read of parted lovers, excitement, romance, knights in armor, and
ladies in white satin dresses. These novels painted a world where palm trees
and pine trees lived together, where lions and tigers roamed the forest, with
Roman Ruins surrounded by virgin forests and lakes full of swans. "And the
shaded oil-lamp . . . lit up all these pictures of the world, which flowed by on
after another, in the silence of the dormitory, to the distant sound of a late
cab somewhere still rolling along the boulevards." (page 30) In short, Emma
fell in love with a world that never existed anywhere. She embraced the
elegance of the life in the pictures which she had hung in her dormitory, and
never did anyone tell her that such realities did not exist outside those pages.
Wishing for the impossible she was never satisfied with the here and now. She
could not find happiness, and when Charles came along she was already depressed
with life, and was looking for anything to take her away in search of the things
she was looking for.
Even Emma\'s father contributed to her future unhappiness. He didn\'t
particularly like the idea of having Charles as a son-in-law, how could he
expect her to love him as a husband? As her father, he should have not let her
marry a man she could never be happy with. He thought him "weedy", however,
since he was short of money, and he owed a lot to the mason, he decided that "If
he asks me for her, he can have her." (page 18) Just like he might sell a horse,
so he got his daughter Emma off his hands and sent her along her way.
Needless to say, Charles was not the sort of person whom Emma had read
about in any of her novels. No girl likes to have a guy follow her around all
the time, sappy over every word she says and the smallest thing she does, and
having nothing interesting to say at all. Imagine being stuck with this
annoying guy instead of the dream man you had thought him to be, having to all
the time conceal the disappointment from everyone. Her strong man clung to her
like a baby, and held no mysteries or interesting things for her.
In youth she had had illusions to keep her happy, but they had been
shattered one by one. Enter Rudolphe. Emma was sad, lonely, bored; he was
exciting, handsome, and interesting. Her weakness drew her to him, and he knew
just how to exploit that weakness. He was an experienced lover, she was a
naieve housewife. The rest is history.
Coming from such dreams, her later unhappiness was inevitable. The
characters from her dreams were not realistic, and by modeling her behavior
after them, she could not be successful in the real world. This is why the
story of Emma had to end as it did.