Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary And Wilkie Collins The Woman In White

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Both Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, and Wilkie Collins The Woman in White depict female characters who are under emotional and physical distress, albeit for entirely different reasons. Emma Bovary’s confinement is self-induced, she is slowly dying from unfulfilled aspirations due to her own fundamental and eventual fatal error, in that she mistakes literature for life. Subsequently, Emma is confined in a world she finds tedious and monotonous. Ultimately, her ennui (Identities, p.20) becomes so severe that nothing she does can console her craving for excitement, as Flaubert tells us “domestic mediocrity drove her to sumptuous fantasies, marital caresses to adulteress desires” (101) and nothing she does matches the ‘’felicity, passion and rapture she finds so lovely in her books “(p.33). In comparison Collins The Woman in White tells the sensationalist tale of women who are confined through no fault of their own, from the beginning of the novel we are told, “This is the story of what a Woman 's patience can endure . . .” (p.). This assignment will discuss the methods used by both authors to depict the identity, and mental and physical confinement of females in the 19th century. It will also compare how the authors used style, symbolism and construction to inevitably influence the representation of female confinement, as well as assessing the text in relation to genre, particularly the role of Flaubert’s realist fiction against Collins Sensationalist/Gothic narrative.

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