Analytical Research Essay on Love and Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary is an article by Gustave Flaubert whose main theme is love. It explains misconceptions in love, risk involved in it and what actually it is. The article explains everything that associates with love including; lust, fantasy, beauty, power and money and it is set during the past centuries. It brings out what love can actually do, bringing us forth and backward concerning love. “Madame Bovary” is a story of a woman who is suffering from her feature of sensibility and she is known as Emma Bovary. Emma yearns for love that she is used to read in the novels but she ends up frustrated as she does not get her desire. On the contrary, she ends up frustrated, in grieves pain and perturbed of her desires. Emma appears as though she faces the most pain than anyone else, but in the end she hurts many than it would seem. She commits suicide that leaves her husband, father and daughter.
Peck’s idea of love is similar to Flaubert, in that both portray the longevity of an individual in love to abandon lonely life and cross the boundary of loneliness. Both believe that love cannot begin in isolation or loneliness. Emma confuses her desire for pleasure and refined feelings with her longing to be in love. She associates love with the setting she is in and compares love with Indian plants that requires good soil and ample temperature for the growth of the plant. From this, it is evident that she mixes pleasure with her prolonged feelings, and she does not differentiate the two. Her attitude towards setting of love makes Emma suffer in the end that can only manage to make her in love temporarily. Suffering and dreading is the repercussion, as similar as Peck’s novel. This leads her to her decision of suicide and ends up depressing her partner, and like Peck, love ends up depressing both parties involved in romantic world and leads to an unhappy ending.
Peck believes that love is an escape from our loneliness, but the escape is temporary. This is because the experience of falling in love and ecstatic lovingness always passes; and the bloom of romance always fades. Flaubert’s idea of love explores this concept because Emma’s love experiences are short lived and ecstatic lovingness always fade. Rodolph upon casting his eye on Emma thinks that she is ripe for seduction; Emma on the other hand is swept by her romantic fantasy. She got a letter from him, she loved him for a long time, and she also admired him, even decided to elope with him. When she got a fatal letter from him, she felt that he used her; she did not love him anymore, and love did not exist. She was able to escape her loneliness and emptiness for a short term romance, which did not last forever. The bloom of romance did not last and the ecstatic love feeling faded at this point. She changes with her situations, love and moods.
Emma also falls in love with Leon who returns her admiration. Leon later leaves in despair of ever gaining Emma’s love and affection. Later they meet nearby Rouen, and their feelings are rekindled. They get into an affair which is ecstatic, but becomes boring with time. Emma is ambivalent about Leon and Leon finds Emma boring because of her emotional extremes, Emma compares Leon to Rodolph and finds Leon being worse than domineering Rodolph. Flaubert and Pecks ideas show that love is always short- lived and the bloom of romance and exciting feelings fade. Peck’s idea is also in the love between Charles and Emma; Emma finds Charles as clumsy and boring. The feelings which led her to being married did not last. She despised her husband, as her marriage life became dull. This shows that her escape from loneliness was temporary, because she was back to her emptiness and desire for someone romantic like she read in the novels. The exciting feelings of loving her husband faded and the relationship became boring. Flaubert and Pecks ideas are defied by the love and affection Charles shows to his wife. His love and romantic feelings do not seem to fade away. He was committed and always tried to make their love work out; like changing the scenery by moving to the village. He later finds out about the letters from his wife’s other lovers, and decides to forgive them. When his wife committed suicide, he tried to keep her memory alive by preserving her room as a shrine. Consequently he is heartbroken and abandons himself to grief and eventually dies from his grief. This shows a kind of love that does not fade and the experience is seen to last during Charles lifetime. However, the escape is temporary because it ended when Emma died.
When love strikes Emma, she does not realize it. She is too busy building misconceptions that make her not to realize when love is slowly finding way into her. The author explains this by saying that it came at once like a thunderclap and flashes of lighting that ends up sweeping her heart into abyss (Shmoop, 54). Neither did Emma realize when rain dripped and clogged in the floor till she discovers the crack on the wall. This is symbolic of how Emma is preoccupied with ‘ideas’ that make her not to realize her feelings. Her character is contradictive, and she portrays it throughout the novel (Maraini, 7). The author, just like Peck, portrays fading love and how love would gradually change. This is evident when Emma is in love with another man, Leon. She tends to mourn and about Leon’s fate of being in love with her, just like the Indian novels she reads. Later, she ends up having an affair with Rodolphe who uses her and leaves. Rodolphe does not believe that love exists, a trait that both Peck and Flaubert bring out clearly (love fades).
Peck considers misconceptions in love such as the belief that romantic love exists; he considers it as destructive if it depends on the existence of the feeling of love. He thinks that true love should be independent and not rely on the feeling of falling in love. According to him true love is willingness to include other in nurturing and humanity and willingness too shed ones ego. This will enable nurturing of oneself and the beloved person (St. Roman, 22). The illusion of love does not have anything to do with he actual loving. Flaubert in his article also seems to consider the same misconceptions that exist in love. Emma in her misconceptions goes astray; she is idealistically pre- occupied with the ideas of how love ought to be. She does not realize when her ideas gradually creep on her. Emma tries her best to find a person she believes she loves. She considers romance, splendor, comfort as true love, this is more of lust. She considers her husband Charles as boring, and Rodolphe as romantic; because she is swept away by his romantic fantasies, Rodolphe ends up giving excuses for not eloping with her; this makes Emma sick pushing her to religion.
Pecks idea of what love is clearly seen in Emma’s love story. The willingness of Charles to shed his ego and nurture ones and beloved’s heart, hence nurturing humanity is Pecks idea of love. Charles forgives Emma, and even after her death he tries to keep her memories notwithstanding finding the letters and finding out about how Emma despises him. Charles, Emma’s husband finds her perfect and flawless despite much evidence to the contrary (Donaldson, 191). He allows her to have much control on finances, despite his devotion; Emma despises him as being common and dull. Emma on the other hand was not willing to nurture their love, but secretly loves other men, whom she thinks are better than her husband, and they all fail her. There was no willingness to nurture or shed ego on part of Rudolph or Leon, hence no true love that existed; that is how the relationships ended.
According to Peck love is not just a feeling but it takes an action and decision making. Rather than the objects of her affection, Emma is infatuated with the idea of being in love. From time to time Emma is seen to make a decision, choosing who to love and for her own reasons decided to love. At first she makes a decision to love Charles, but after marrying him, she finds him boring and starts chasing for some other type of love according to her misconceptions which include romance. She chooses and takes action, in Rodolphe’s case she plans to elope with him, and in Leon’s case she has sexual relations with him as a decision to love. Flaubert’s point of view of love brings out the idea that love involves decision making and actions apart from feelings.
Peck believes that love is a dreadful lie which causes confusion and suffering; it even makes married people become depressed while trying to figure out why they are not happy, while they should be happy. Peck’s ideas hold true in Flaubert article as he shows this idea in Emma’s marriage; she is unhappy with her marriage and finds herself disillusioned. She knows that Charles means well but she finds him dull, boring and clumsy, and her motherhood is also disappointing. Love causes confusions to Emma and Leon, when they both don’t know their fate. Emma suffers because she develops feeling for Leon but because of her marriage she fears and hides from the love. The love she has causes her suffering because she does not know if Leon has the same affection; Leon in despair not knowing if he will gain Emma’s affection leaves, hence causing suffering to both of them.
Love is dreadful lie that causes suffering; Emma is swept away by romance and fantasy when she finds Rodolph, love is deceptive because she confuses the fantasies she gets, for love. Rodolph on the other hand does not seem to be really swept away and even jeopardizes their elopement, which breaks Emma’s heart. It causes suffering to Emma because she became ill for a long time, and no one knew the cause of her illness. This suffering even made her turn into religion (Porter, Gray, 14). Love also causes suffering to Charles and Emma’s daughter after she died. Her husband grieved and eventually died from grieving, and her daughter remained alone in the whole world. Charles is seen to be depressed in their marriage at some point because he tries to figure out why they are unhappy. Consequently he tries to move to other sceneries as he tries to find happiness in the marriage. Love is dreadful because Emma eventually killed herself because she felt betrayed by Rodolph and Leon, hence killed herself. Peck gives a vague extension to marriage as it can involve plural relationships to encourage an individual’s total relationship, and sometimes encourage growth.
Flaubert shows how love can be a lie and causes suffering, where he says that “she was not happy and she had never been, because there was instantaneous turning in life which caused decay to everything which Emma leaned. How impossible, besides nothing was worth the trouble of seeking because everything was a lie.” He also shows pain and suffering on part of Emma when she was disappointed by Rodolph, he says that ‘’after pain and disappointment her heart stood empty, and the succession of identical days began again.’’
Sometimes love is seen to come with many good things, this involves being happy, romantic, and being cared for like how Charles loved Emma. Love is also seen to come with excitement although it may be short-lived. Love can be great if peck’s requirements of willingness to nurture each other and shed ego, are achieved. If these requirements are not achieved Peck’s idea and Flaubert’s idea shows that it may lead to fatal results like causing death like Charles case or committing suicide. Charles’s character succeeds in showing the perfect example of how to love as in Peck’s conception. Emma Bovary fails as a lover in Flaubert’s’ article.
Lheureux can be seen as eventually the direct cause of Emma’s suicide, when he calls on her to repay his debts. He convinces Emma to buy goods and borrow money from him. Emma desperately tries to get cash from Rodolph and Leon who fail her. She swallows arsenic in despair causing her death. Her death did not affect people like Hoima, the pharmacist, because she had something to write in the local newspaper’s article ( Overstall, Flaumbart, 8). The love in the story ends up in a tragedy because of Emma’s death.