Monday, April 21, 2014
Madame Bovary Update #2
(This post is linked up at ebookclassics)
Whooo.... Part 2 had a lot to it, for sure. This post will only give you a slight glance at all my thoughts....
Madame Bovary is developing into a fantastic character exploration, not only with Mme. Bovary herself, but also with Charles, Rodolphe, and others.
Note: May Contain Spoilers!
Emma is just getting more and more frivolous and unsympathetic as the book goes on. I said I pitied her in Part 1, and that I understood where she was coming from. Well, now she's just going a bit far. She's ignoring her position as wife and mother and acting totally selfishly. Her whole person exudes selfishness. She wants adventure, she wants romance, she wants intrigue, but she doesn't give a moment's thought to how her desires will affect those closest to her - her husband and daughter. For heaven's sake, Emma, take a minute and think of somebody other than yourself!
Because of this selfishness, Emma is always unsatisfied. She always wants the next level up. Even if she ever became a prestigious, rich lady, she would want to be queen. Emma tells herself, "If I can only reach ____ point, or if I can only get ____, I will be happy and satisfied." But of course, this never happens, because once she gets that thing, there's always the next object of desire. Emma can't make the best of what she has, or take joy in the simple things. There's this continuous search for intrigue (Rodolphe) and adventure/fame (the operation).
Poor guy. Bad luck seems to intentionally search him out and latch on to him with a vigor. Not only does he have an unloving, unfaithful wife who is going through constant mood swings, he also is going through money troubles. And to top it all off, he botches a new operation - one that apparently wasn't ever really legit in the first place, and only a Parisian fad. Poor guy.
The thing is, he really loves Emma, and daughter. He may be rather oblivious and gullible (he doesn't notice that Emma is having an affair with Rodolphe, or even that their relationship is anything other than platonic; and he also agreed to jump into doing an operation that has not yet become common practice, and the risks of which are not yet known). But despite this, he is a truly good-hearted fellow who is striving to do his best for his family and for his community.
There are two ways to look at Rodolphe.
Firstly, we can see him as trying to convince himself that he doesn't really have any ounce of feeling for Emma, that she is only one of his affairs, just for fun. But there really is a part of him that does have feelings for her, and that is why he took so long to leave, when he could have just disappeared one day.
The second way to look at Rodolphe is that he really doesn't have any feelings for Emma, and the reason why he stuck around for so long was because he likes knowing that there are women out there who still wholeheartedly love him, and by leaving such a dramatic letter and all, he ensures that Emma might never see through his deception, and will continue to love him. It's a pride thing, it's a selfish thing, knowing that his "conquests" still believe in him, even though he has abandoned them and will never see them again.
The final update for Madame Bovary will go up on the 30th!
(And HERE is the first update, if you'd care to read it.)
Whether or not you're doing the readalong - what do you think of the development of Emma's character? What about Rodolphe and his relationship with her?