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The Origin Of Emma And Nora, From Henrik Ibsens "A Doll's House" And Gustave Flaubert's "Madame Bovary"

1124 words - 4 pages

Gustave Flaubert and Henrik Ibsen are both known as great writers andharsh social critics. In fact when Flauberts masterpiece Madame Bovary wasreleased, he was arrested on the grounds that his novel was morally andreligiously offensive to the public, despite the fact that it was a bestseller. AlsoHenrik Ibsens "A Doll's House" was such a slap in the face to many Europeansthat it was banned in some countries and revised in Germany so that it had ahappy ending. Some people in Norway even attributed the rising divorce rate tothis play! What is it that drove both of these authors to be such harsh socialcritics? What exactly were their views? And what drove these two authors tocreate two of their most famous characters: Nora, from "A Dolls House", andEmma from Madame Bovary? An insight into the background of these authorsreveals that both Nora and Emma are reflections of social and political viewpointsof their authors, and are at least partially based on people that the authors knew.First of all, it is important to know the socio-economic status andbackground of the two authors. It is also good to at least have an idea about thesociety in which they lived. Then it is possible to see why they had certainviewpoints and how these viewpoints had an effect on the personalities andactions of their characters.Gustave Flaubert was born on December 12, 1821 in Rouen, France to awealthy surgeon. As a boy he was well aware of the incompetence in the medicalprofession, and the middle class "lip service" which he portrayed through Homaisin Madame Bovary. In his college years, Flaubert began to despise the middleclass even more as he became enthralled in the romantic writings of Hugo,Rousseau, Lord Byron, and Sir Walter Scott. In Madame Bovary, Emma has acertain romantic aspect similar to Flaubert which is a longing for things to beperfect. This perfectionism was arguably an obsession for Flaubert. In fact, ittook him 5 years to write Madame Bovary. I remember hearing that he evenmade sketches of the characters houses and of the town of Yonville. It was alsoin college that he fell victim to excessive romantic ideals, such as those portrayedin Emma, and had a failed marriage with an older woman named ElisaSchlesinger. His personal attitudes about love are portrayed through Emma.After his divorce, he entered into a relationship with the poet Louise Colet thatwas mainly based on letter writing, just as Emma's affairs with Rodolphe andLeon rely heavily on letter writing. In fact, Flaubert and Colet only saw each othersix times in their first two years. This relationship with Miss Colet shows clearlythe fact that Gustave Flaubert, like Emma Bovary, liked the idea of having a lovermore than actually having one. In 1844, Flaubert started to develop a nervousdisorder that forced him to retire to his family's estate. As Flaubert returned to hisprovincial lifestyle, he realized how boring it was. It was this boredom andisolation that shined through in Emma Bovary, who was...

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