Madame Bovary Part 2

Madame BovaryThis novel contains so much that my class on Adultery in 19th Century Literature could discuss, that it is a shame that we only had two classes for this novel.  It is on to Dostoevsky next week with a story called The Eternal Husband and then to Tolstoy and Anna Karenina after that.  This class is an audit for me of a for credit college comp lit class so the pace is quick. But…back to Madame Bovary.  There was much discussion of Emma.  Is she someone to feel sorry for?  Is she  a victim?  Why is she unable to be happy with her husband?  What can be said of her as a mother?  Why does she try to make herself feel better by spending lots of money that she does not have?  What does it mean that she has read many novels and is quite influenced by them?  Is she constrained by the roles that were available to her? What does the reader think about what happens to her at the end of the novel? And then…What of the men in the book?  Does the reader feel sympathy for Charles?  Why is he not enough for Emma?  What does the reader make of Rodolphe?  of Leon? Do any of these men love her? What of the many bourgeois villagers including the pharmacist and the money lender?  We learned to watch for colors…blue symbolizes passion and yellow danger and, that there are many “threes” in the novel.  We also learned that even the most casual seeming detail can come back later in the novel with great importance.  Read Nabokov’s views on the novel as we did in an article.   I am very glad to have reread this novel which I last read in my twenties.  There is so much in it.  If you don’t mind SPOILER some tragedy think about reading or re-reading this important novel of realism.   And readers…let me know if you are interested in following this class as it continues or if this is enough on adultery.  Thanks.

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