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Madame Bovary And The House Of The Spirits

1467 words - 6 pages

Gustave Flaubert of Madame Bovary and Isabel Allende of The House of the Spirits both manipulate elements of genre, dialogue, and style in relation to suspense in order to comment on the romantic ideas of destiny and fate. While they both use these techniques in relation to suspense and anticipation, Flaubert minimizes the importance of fate while Allende seeks to promote it. Flaubert builds suspense for a large amount of time and suddenly destroys or ignores it, but Allende destroys anticipation almost immediately. The realist elements, the ironic and misleading dialogue, and the contradictory syntax in Madame Bovary allow Flaubert to build suspense and then remove it to downplay the importance of fate. On the other hand, the magic realism techniques, the prophetic dialogue and narration, and the flat diction throughout The House of the Spirits allow Allende to idealize the idea of destiny.
Flaubert’s realism and Allende’s magic realism techniques allow the authors to both create and destroy suspense in order to mirror their respective attitudes towards fate. In Madame Bovary, Flaubert consistently builds anticipation with the extreme detail common to the realist genre. After building up the suspense to an almost unbearable intensity, he ends the section with a flat statement that destroys any suspense in an ultimately anticlimactic way. These endings frustrate the reader, but also mirror Emma’s journey and her romantic ideals. Flaubert parallels the plot and its implications on the idea of fate with detail. Emma and Leon, when first flirting, go to the house of the nurse for Berthe, but Flaubert describes the hedges on the way there in excruciating detail: “They were in bloom, and so were the speedwells, eglantines, thistles, and the sweet-briar that sprang up from the thickets” (Flaubert 89). As Leon and Emma move along, Flaubert also lists “a string of onions . . . a bed of lettuces, a few square feet of lavender . . . sweet peas strung on sticks . . . several indefinite rags, knitted stockings, a red calico jacket, and a large sheet of coarse linen” all within one paragraph (Flaubert 89). This is contradicted by Flaubert’s detailing when Leon leaves Yonville. He describes the actions of the two with little elaboration. Emma “raised her head with a quick movement” and “they advanced toward each other; he held out his hand; she hesitated” (Flaubert 114). This contrast in style parallels with Emma’s idea of destiny, where she considers her love with Leon and Rodolphe to be an act of fate. Both Emma herself and Flaubert’s details build up the suspense and theatricality of fate, but the anticlimactic endings of Emma’s trysts and Flaubert’s technique betray Flaubert’s critique of the idea of destiny.
Allende, on the other hand, promotes the importance of fate through the elements of magic realism. Clara often makes prophecies that remove mystery or suspense. She states “I’m going to be married soon . . . to Rosa’s fiancé” (Allende 82). ...

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