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11. You can write about Charles' failure to see into Emma's true character, and to recognize the possibility that Emma can be anything but totally satisfied with her life. He's blind, also, to the fact that she's having affairs with Leon and Rodolphe. Up until the last moment, he doesn't even realize or "see" that all his possessions are to be auctioned off in repayment of her debts. You'll also want to discuss Emma's blindness to her own nature and her inability to see through the insincerity of her lovers and the machinations of Lheureux. She's blinded by her own passion to the consequences of her actions. Discuss, as well, the symbolic meaning of the blind beggar, including Emma's reaction when she first sees him at the side of the road. You might also write about how Flaubert equates blindness with the narrowness and monotony of middle-class life.
12. Flaubert uses certain objects more than once to reflect the thoughts and feelings of his characters. Discuss his use of windows: the closed window as a symbol of frustration, restraint, and the monotony of married life and the open window as a symbol of the possibilities opened up by dreams, as well as of passion and freedom. You might mention that Binet's lathe is also a symbol of the unchanging quality of provincial life and that carriages symbolize escape. You might also discuss the symbolism of the two wedding bouquets, the Viscount's cigar case, and the blind beggar. The bouquets represent the fleeting quality of married life and the death of love and beauty that ends in actual death. The cigar case represents the aristocratic world to which Emma aspires in her fantasies. The beggar symbolizes blindness, deterioration, and the death that awaits Emma at the other side of the "window."
13. Flaubert felt that middle-class pursuits were geared toward acquiring material possessions, to the exclusion of an interest in emotional or spiritual life. Most of the middle-class characters in the novel are characterized as greedy, superficial, unfeeling, and only concerned with appearances. You can discuss the middle-class qualities of Homais, Leon, Lheureux, and Charles. (See the section on Characters.) Homais, for example, values knowledge superficially as if it were a possession-most of what he talks about is derived from second-hand cliches. Lheureux, on the other hand, is interested only in money. His dealings with Emma mark a confrontation between greed and passion. Leon's values, despite his romantic side, are essentially middle-class as evidenced by his timidity and conventionality. His involvement with Emma bothers him because it conflicts with these values, so he ultimately withdraws, plagued by the reminder that Emma is a married woman. Charles is honest but mediocre and dull, two other typical bourgeois qualities according to Flaubert. In Flaubert's eyes, members of the middle class were, at worst, self-centered, hypocrites and thieves and, at best, boring, plodding, and vulgar.
In your answer, you might also talk about the reaction of the people in Yonville to Emma's death, the triumphs of Homais and Lheureux, and the "good" middle-class traits of Charles and Dr. Lariviere.
14. Charles is under his mother's influence throughout the entire novel. This close maternal tie indicates an inability to step out on his own and be independent. His marriage to Emma is the one thing that he does without his mother's approval, and this is perhaps the main reason why Emma is so important to him. His inability to understand her needs, however, creates an intolerable situation for Emma. He is everything Emma despises; he is boring and mediocre. He has no particular ambition, nor the talent, to become a famous doctor (though he is hardworking and honest). Discuss his reaction to Emma at their first meeting, and describe the first few months of their marriage. His naively trusting attitude toward his wife might be viewed by some as sheer stupidity. His willingness to let Emma control their financial dealings shows how blind he is to the very essence of her character. His lack of imagination closes off access to the thing he loves best, his wife. You will want to discuss Charles' transformation after Emma's death and the possibility that he was truer to the idea of love than Emma.