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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 first chapter where Charles is introduced as the “new fellow”, Flaubert was attempting to narrate this chapter as if it were Charles’s classmates speaking. Although his classmates appear to be objective at times, Flaubert makes his opinion know by stating how ridiculous Charles seems in his efforts to appear sophisticated. In his novel, Flaubert states, when the lesson was being taught, Charles listened with all of his ears attentive like he was at a sermon, he did not attempt to cross his legs or lean on his elbow, and when the two o’clock bell rang he waited for the teacher to tell him to fall in line. (Flaubert, 7). Here Flaubert explains how Charles is trying too hard to be a good student. It is like Charles believes that if he makes this effort, more of his class mates will like him. One cannot help but to feel sympathy toward Charles’ character. The way describes his dress makes one think that Charles does not come from a wealthy family. He is not wearing the school uniform, and the clothes he is wearing are too tight forming his long fifteen year old body.
When the class finishes prayer, the other boys begin to throw their hats on the ground in a sort of game. Charles does not partake in the play; he sits quietly with his hat on his knee. This also shows one that the author’s opinion of Charles’s ridiculous behavior is true. Later the head master comes and tells the class to rise. Charles abruptly jumps up and his hat falls to the ground. All of his class mates began to laugh. As Charles leans down to pick up the hat, the boy who sets beside his knocks the hat out of his hand with his elbow. (Flaubert, 7). Between the laughter of his classmates and having to bend down and pick up the hat again, Charles is deeply embarrassed. One can relate to Charles’s embarrassment, because at one point in time they were embarrassed at school like this. At this point in the novel, one can see that Charles is a clumsy individual who tries too hard.
Later in the novel, Charles now a young man is studying to become a doctor. Even at this older age Charles is still a dull boring fellow who tries too hard to fit in. Flaubert makes him out to be a dim individual. When he is given his first medical examination, Charles fails it horribly. One can’t help but see how life is being harsh on Charles. Throughout his study in medicine he fails his test and exams because he squanders his time away at a local bar. On his second try, Charles does well and graduates, but he did not do well enough to become a city doctor, so he used...

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