The Concept Of Love In Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary

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In the novel “Madame Bovary”, the author, Gustave Flaubert, describes three heterosexual relationships that are different among each other, but add up to a unique idealized portrait of love. Emma Bovary desires “gentlemen brave as lions, gentle as lambs, virtuous as no one ever is, always well dressed, and weeping like tombstone urns” (I.6.32), but through her married life she soon realizes that these are unrealistic expectations. Indeed, the term bovarism represents exactly this concept of having expectations that cannot be satisfied. Madame Bovary vainly seeks a man who can give her contemporarily love, romance, and passion, but she will only be able to live three relationships with three different men. First, she has a marriage with Charles, who represents a sincere form of love, but he is also predictable and boring. She meets the romantic Leon, who, however, is highly idealized. Then, she …show more content…

She likes the idea that Leon is an ambitious young man, who loves reading novels and talking about arts. Leon is even going to study in Paris, which has always been Emma’s dream that Charles has never been able to satisfy. While Emma uses Leon to imagine what her life without Charles would have been, Leon, who is physically attracted to her, uses banal romanticism to seduce her and to have a sexual affair. While Emma is fascinated by Leon’s romanticism, Flaubert looks at Leon as a person able to talk only of banal cliché. Music, novel, the sunset, the sea, and a journey to Switzerland are basic conversations that do not make a person interesting. But from Emma’s perspective, at least, Léon was able to read a novel, and “often she asked him to read some poems to her” (II.4.86). Léon still lacks the kind of overwhelming passion she was looking for. Indeed, their relation is only a platonic one, lived through novels, until the end of the book when they have an actual sexual

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