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 desires of her heart and seek out passion in other men instead of staying in the comfort of commitment offered to her by her husband.
Emma is first introduced in the story when her ailing father needs tending from a local physician. The doctor is Charles Bovary, whom Emma will later marry. Charles is married at the time he first visits Emma's father. However, Charles wife is old and frail and passes away shortly after he meets Emma. Charles then marries Emma and they move to a small town in France named Yohnville, where Charles sets up his practice. Early in their marriage, Charles takes Emma to a party held by the Secretary of State of France in a large château. After a small taste of royalty, Emma is enamored with the romantic feel of living a royal life. She begins feeling unhappy with her marriage, complaining her husband is boring and dull compared to some of the men she had met at the party. She soon seeks out companionship with other men and eventually becomes two different men's mistress. They, however, tire of her romantic ideas and leave her. Throughout her marriage to Charles, and the different relationships she has, all Emma can see is hopelessness and despair, so she eventually eats poison and dies, leaving her husband and her young daughter, Berthe.
For a time, Emma enjoyed the romantic idea of being a man's mistress, in the end, however all her fanciful ideals and dreams of love couldn't save her from the hopelessness of the consequences she brought upon herself. She went looking for a "true love" only to find that love is not only centered around passion but more importantly is grounded in commitment.
The reader first discovers Emma's desire to have romance when the author reveals that Emma loved reading romance novels throughout her time spent at a Catholic school (47). Emma was young when Charles asked for her hand in marriage and she eagerly accepted his proposal. Within a few months of their marriage though, Emma realizes that everything about married life isn't as picture perfect as it was in her novels. Before she married Charles, "she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought, have been mistaken" (45). Emma took her first step in reaching her desire for passion and began to look for ways to apply words such as felicity, passion, rapture and romance (45) to her life.
The next step taken by Emma towards reaching romance happens at the party ...