This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Emma’s Path To Destruction In Madame Bovary

2134 words - 9 pages

Emma’s Path to Destruction in Madame Bovary   

    In his song, "Instant Karma!," John Lennon shouts an ominous warning to his listeners: "Instant karma's gonna get you / gonna knock you right in the head / better get yourself together, darlin' / pretty soon your gonna be dead... " The subject of his scorn may have been socially conservative Americans bent on the abolition of social progressives, but clearly anyone can gleam a bit of wisdom from such blunt counsel. Even Gustav Flaubert's eponymous heroine, Emma Bovary, may have been able to escape her grim cycle of misfortune, disappointment, and utter despair had she understood the relatively simple Hindu law of karma Lennon alludes to here, which states: "Any action whatsoever is the effect of a cause and is in its turn the cause of an effect" (Zaehner 4). For according to this law, every odious act committed by Emma Bovary had an equally odious impact on her future; therefore one might suppose that, had she done enough good, or performed enough tasks for the benefit of someone other than herself, her ultimate fate would not have been so terrible. As Flaubert has it, however, Emma Bovary's myriad, abhorrent acts of deceit, adultery, and self-serving manipulation of even those who care for her eventually lead her onto that dark, cyclical path that so often ends, as in this case of Madame Bovary's doomed protagonist, with tragedy.


Traditionally the Hindi faith recognizes karma as a force collected throughout one's life that serves as catalyst for the events and situations one will experience in the next life. To understand the impact of karma on Emma Bovary, one must examine her as having lived three distinct lives: daughter, wife, and mistress. During her first existence, that of daughter, Emma performs no valid wrongs; that is to say that such matters as her "innocent" lies created while in confessionals are (according to the Judeo-Christian ethic) sins, but harmless and incapable of harnessing any real evil. Her thoughts may become "corrupted by the nonsense of popular pseudo-Romantic literature and art" (Tillett 4), but according to the law of karma it is her actions that ultimately determine her fate. Though Emma "rebelled against the mysteries of the Christian faith" (Flaubert 34) and "became increasingly irritated with its discipline, which was antipathetic to her nature" (34), she performed no real sin. Her less than virtuous thoughts certainly cast gloomy shadows over her destiny, but have no direct impact on what is to come.


Emma escaped her first life free of any severe transgression, but also left it devoid of any notably honorable act on her part. This lack of any karma whatsoever, neither good nor evil, gives birth to Emma's second existence. This new life to which she has transcended can only be defined as utterly dull. She is wife to a mediocre husband whose "conversation was as flat as a sidewalk" (35) and "traversed by a steady stream of the most...

Find Another Essay On Emma’s Path to Destruction in Madame Bovary

Minor Character Cronfrontation In Madame Bovary

1457 words - 6 pages rejects, Flaubert represents through her daughter. Emma consistently falls to the challenges of temptation throughout Madame Bovary, clearly displayed through the fortunes of the apothecary, Monsuire Homais. Emma’s romantic ideals of a life like those in her stories, that Homais achieves for himself, further agitates the unhappiness in her life. Flaubert presents Emma’s failure to succeed in her societal role through the appearance of Hippolyte and

Lust in Madame Bovary and No Exit

1472 words - 6 pages In Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’, and Sartre’s ‘No Exit’ lust is a major theme. It is expressed by theprotagonist Emma Bovary, in ‘Madame Bovary’, and is conveyed through all three characters, Inez, Estelle and Garcin, in ‘No Exit’. Emma’s life is observed intricately through an omniscient narrator who engages in realistic descriptions of her life. She is a tragic and unfulfilled dreamer. She aspires to have an aristocratic life, although she is

Emphasis on Characters in Madame Bovary

1365 words - 6 pages Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary masterfully explores the mid-19th century cultural scene, coloring the subject with his opinion. Through the book Flaubert lends insight into life in at the time, and imparts his opinions on the social world. He accomplishes these goals using the Bovary’s. Flaubert reevaluates characters through conflict, absence, juxtaposition, and selective thought examination to vilify the Bovary’s. Whether through necessity

The Death of Emma Bovary in Madame Bovary

1220 words - 5 pages Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary is the detailed tale of the upbringing of a common French farm girl and her experiences as a member of the Bourgeoisie social party. At the end of the novel, Emma, the main character, decides to commit suicide through the use of arsenic because of the large amount of debt she acquired through purchases of gifts for her infidelity partners. Occurring in chapter eight of the last section, the novel continues with

Romance and Reality in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

1129 words - 5 pages Romance and Reality in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary In the story of Alice in Wonderland we follow Alice down a rabbit hole into a land of pure wonder, where the logic of a little girl holds no sway. In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, we witness exactly the opposite as Emma Bovary, a most romantic creature, is purposely cast into a harshly realistic world. In either case, a creature is put into an environment unnatural to her disposition, yet

Gender Role Reversal in Madame Bovary

1518 words - 7 pages , removing them from male characters and adding them to Emma’s personality. This reversal reveals the flawed nature of nineteenth century France’s social order. Flaubert proves male characters to be unable to fulfill their roles as the head of the household, and despite Emma’s attempt to take on the role, she is also unable because of the masculine qualities she possesses. In these modern times where women can be the head of the household and breadwinners, and men stay home, society has started to mirror the idiosyncrasies that Flaubert illustrates through his own role reversals in Madame Bovary.

Romanticism vs. Realism in Madame Bovary

1760 words - 8 pages Throughout Gustave Flaubert’s novel, Madame Bovary, the story frequently overlaps realism and romanticism. Both are shown through Flaubert’s attention to the details of the ordinary, dull life found in a small town and the dialogue that Emma shares with her targets of affection. This paper will analyze several of the characters and how they relate to romanticism and realism, and Flaubert’s attitude towards the bourgeois. Emma

The Theme of Change in Madame Bovary

905 words - 4 pages The Theme of Change in Madame Bovary       Change is a central theme in the novel Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, and is key to understanding the character of Emma Bovary. Through parallel events the reader comes to realize that Emma's need for change is the result of the influence her early life had upon her. At the convent Emma is left to develop into an extreme romantic with high hopes for excitement and dreams of sensuous pleasures

Sympathy in Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

1501 words - 6 pages In the novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, one is introduced to Charles Bovary as a young school boy who tries too hard to fit in, then he becomes a young man who nearly fails his medical exam, and last he falls in love with Emma who finds him “boring”. Throughout the book, Charles fails at school, being a doctor and most important love. His attempts at these things are noble and it makes one feel sympathetic toward the character. In the

Society's Oppression in Madame Bovary and Middlemarch

2867 words - 11 pages Oppression of characters is usually fuelled by external causes. In the case of Madame Bovary and Middlemarch, external causes like gender norms result in the oppression of women. In Madame Bovary, society's expectations of a wifely figure restricts Emma's desire to climb the social ladder. In Middlemarch, the dogmas about female intellectual abilities propagated by characters like Lydgate and Casaubon hinder Dorothea's ability to become an

Writers Craft Of Flaubert In Madame Bovary

629 words - 3 pages Flauberts use of the blind beggar in Madame Bovary shows his reader so much more then just an ugly beggar. It shows a fake, immoral person who is constantly trying to be something she's not. It also foreshadows Emma's bankruptcy, not only financially but also spiritually, emotionally, and morally. All of these bankruptcies resulted in her emotional drain and eventually led to her death.Flaubert uses very descriptive words making the beggar look

Similar Essays

Symbolism In Madame Bovary Essay

934 words - 4 pages embedded in the story line as a thorn in a callous heel. The elements making up the very person of Charles Bovary remain excruciatingly evident, haunting his every move.Symbolic of his yearning for inner fulfillment, Charles Bovary presents to be a man in search of an unknown sensual satisfaction. It is no wonder, with the detailed writing the French government attempted to censor Flaubert when Madame Bovary was published in 1856. Although the vast

Symbolism In Madame Bovary Essay

421 words - 2 pages Madame Bovary PassageABut it was above all at mealtime that she could bear it no longer - in that small ground floor room with its smoking stove, its squeaking door, its sweating walls and its damp floor tiles. All the latterness of life seemed to be served up to her on her plate; and the steam rising from the boiled meat brought gusts of revulsion from the depths of her soul. Charles was a slow eater; she would nibble a few hazelnuts or lean on

Confining Spaces In Madame Bovary Essay

1004 words - 5 pages In Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert’s incorporation of confined spaces reveals Emma’s literal and metaphorical imprisonment. Starting from her adolescence, Emma becomes held back from the world at both the convent, and the farm. Flaubert depicts these confinements as literal. Later, Charles, her husband, physically overpowers her when they meet, and metaphorically suppresses her throughout the rest of the marriage. Finally, Emma imprisons herself

Fleeting Satisfaction In Madame Bovary Essay

1592 words - 6 pages Fleeting Satisfaction in Madame Bovary      The desire to have romance, rapture, and passion can often times be fleeting and momentary where as the foundation of true love and commitment generally stands solid throughout many trials. In Madame Bovary (1857), a novel written by Gustave Flaubert, the main character of the story, Emma Bovary, finds both passion and commitment in different facets yet she chooses to yield herself to the