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How Dysfunctional Marriages Impacted The Lives Of The Heroines Of "Madame Bovary" And "Anna Karenina".

1434 words - 6 pages

What are the major components of a successful marriage? Trust? Communication? Love? What happens when these vital components are missing? Could a marriage survive the absence of these extremely important elements? In the novels Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy and Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert, there is a lack of these major factors in the heroines' marriages. The heroines of these novels are very similar; therefore it can be said that they exemplify a pattern in tragic realist novels. The authors of these novels are implying in their works what is necessary for a successful marriage. Flaubert's Emma and Tolstoy's Anna try to find true love by going behind their husbands' back, and go straight into extramarital affairs. We can see the pattern in both novels by looking at three separate parts: their initial problems, their reactions when faced with these problems and their unfortunate downfall.Both couples are somewhat happy at the beginning of the novels, yet they quickly encounter problems which they cannot overlook. This period before their affairs begin could also be designated as the calm before the storm. It is clear from the start of the novel that Anna Karenina is not pleased with her current marriage. She is simply not satisfied with her aristocratic husband and she steadfastly decides that perhaps other men could satisfy her needs. Even when her husband tries to see what is wrong with her current attitude, she refuses to open up to him, " To all his efforts to draw her into explanations, she counterposed an impenetrable wall of a sort of cheerful perplexity". It is clear that Anna will soon find the man she believes can satisfy her needs, yet is she really going to improve her long-term happiness this way? Emma Bovary in the novel realizes after her marriage that she does not love her unmotivated regional health officer husband. It is uncanny how she can come to conclude this only days after her marriage, " Before her wedding-day, she had thought she was in love; but since she lacked the happiness that should have come from that love, she must have been mistaken, she fancied". She decides to hide her dissatisfaction with her marriage, yet her bitterness towards Charles cannot be hidden. This foreshadows the eventual affairs that she participates in. She, like Anna Karenina, will try to find another man to satisfy her needs. Their search for happiness is misguided and it will lead them eventually to their own destruction. Both heroines share the same initial problems at the beginning of the novels. Both are clearly dissatisfied with their marriages and they will also start extramarital affairs. I believe that these types of initial problems characterize the tragic realist novel involving a heroine that leads herself to self-destruction. Tolstoy and Flaubert show us how the average marriage goes terribly wrong and ruins the lives of the wives involved.It is interesting to see that both heroines react similarly when faced with their marital...

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