Thursday, April 10, 2014

Madame Bovary Update #1


Here we go with Part 1 of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary!
This will cover two random aspects of this book, and is linked up at Cedar Station.
I've got fifteen minutes to write this, so here goes -

Emma Bovary's character

Emma is an interesting character. The reader can clearly understand her motivations, though we might possibly be a bit judgemental - she does seem a bit shallow, after all, yearning for the life of splendor and riches and material things. But my biggest feeling for her is pity. Her heart longs for the romance and whimsy that every young girl longs for at some point in her life - Prince Charming sweeping her off her feet, reading her love poems, and singing serenades. Her life, living in a farmhouse with her father, is nothing at all like the novels she read in school, and she has never had the chance to really experience true love. She thinks she loves Charles, because the love she has read about is merely butterflies and pleasant conversation, but after her disillusionment, she is stuck at the point of no return.

So, she turns to the material things in life that she hopes will make up for lack of emotional romance. So really - I pity her. I really feel bad for her because she never got the Prince Charming of her dreams. And she had no idea what true love was.

Weird Beginnings

So the story starts out with a first person narration by a classmate of Charles Bovary. It doesn't continue in first person, and sort of shifts in a sneaky way into third person without you noticing it. What the heck is with that?
I really have no idea why this is so. I must admit, however, that first person narrators do generally capture my attention more so than third person, and when I opened up the book at the library and read the first couple sentences (to determine which translation I would pick), I automatically felt my brain engage. First person does that. It throws you into the narrator's experience.
But after a while, that first person fades out. Because really, the story is about Emma Bovary (no, duh?). And Charles' classmate really did not have an intimate knowledge of the Bovary family's daily affairs - or the feelings of both the wife and the husband.
So that's really all I have about this weird point of view switch. Will Charles' experiences at the school come back at some point with greater significance? Or was that just to show his personality and give him a background and history? We shall see.

On to Part 2!

If you've read Madame Bovary (or are reading it for the readalong) - what do you think of Emma Bovary? What about the strange point of view in the opening of the novel?
(No spoilers please, if you've already read the entire book!)


  1. I enjoyed reading MB, even though at one point I was ashamed for her, since she wasn't. But I always felt sorry for her, that she could never feel satisfied.

    1. I agree - I definitely felt ashamed for her a couple times...
      Are you doing the readalong, or have you read it already?

    2. I read it a couple of years ago, and I was tempted to reread it again w/ this read-along, but I have too much on my plate right now. So I'll just enjoy reading what you guys think about it.

  2. I never noticed the change in narration until several of you mentioned it. Obviously, I'm not paying close enough attention! I feel bad for Emma because her life sounds so frustrating and boring, but at the same time I more and more dislike how she's so self-absorbed. I'm interested to see how I feel about her reading Part 2.

    1. As I'm reading Part 2, I like her less and less. But I never really LIKED her in the first place. I just felt bad for her. I don't think I'd like to have her as a friend....


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