Madame Bovary and Truth
Uploaded by love786 on May 04, 2006
The novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert has many lessons hidden in seemingly ordinary dialogue, or scenes in the text. One of the most memorable and powerful passages contains what is a veritable moral of the novel. In the last third of the book, Emma Bovary’s life goes on a rapid downward spiral, and in one significant scene, she reflects on her life, past, and what she has learned from her affairs. One line strikes the reader: "everything was a lie!" This avowal can be applied to many different situations in the novel, and can be said to be the chief lesson Flaubert wishes to incorporate.
In this passage, Emma remembers her past, a time when she was more innocent and perhaps less preoccupied with her troubles. She remembers her time in the convent as a young girl—a time when she was happy and passionate about life, for awhile. Then she grew bored with the ordinary life of a student in a convent, and the stories of love and passion called to her more than ever.
She remembers how she had longed for the love affairs that she had read about in her romance novels, and how she had imagined her future. She recalls how her imagination had carried her away into the depths of the story; perhaps it is her imagination that is at fault for implanting these ideas in her head. Life certainly has not turned out the way she dreamed.
Next, she remember the few precious moments in her life: the waltzes, lovers, etc. She then decides that she was never happy. Even though Emma has just listed several of the most happy moments in her life, she feels that life is simply not satisfying.
The tone throughout this passage conveys what Emma feels—betrayal, sadness, and anger. These three tones are very important throughout the novel. Also, the sentiments she expresses are ironic—she recognizes that her dreams will never come true, and yet she clings to them. In the end though Flaubert expresses his cynical outlook, which Emma shares: "each smile hid a yawn of boredom…" Emma also ponders why she feels that everything she touches turns to dust.
Next, she imagines the man of her dreams, and not surprisingly, he...