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Free Study Guide-Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert-Free Book Notes
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Emma is disappointed with her honeymoon, which is not romantic, although she had expected it to be. She is unable to express this "intangible unease" to her husband, who does not have the sensitivity to understand her. As their outward familiarity grows, she inwardly withdraws from him. His conversation, she notes, is "as flat as a street pavement." He seems to lack general knowledge as well. For Emma, "a man... should know everything." But Charles is painfully unambitious, and Emma is frustrated by him.

In addition to managing the house, Emma spends her time sketching and playing the piano. Charles has absolutely no cause for complaint. His mother, however, "seemed to be prejudiced against her daughter-in-law." Although Emma behaves like a dutiful daughter-in-law, Flaubert makes it clear that there is no love between the two women. Charles' mother is resentful of Emma because she did not have problems interacting with Charles' first wife and she did not feel her own intimacy with her son to be threatened. "But now she (sees) in Charles' love for Emma a kind of defection from her own love...and she (observes) her son's happiness in gloomy silence." Charles is aware of the differences between his wife and his mother, but he can do nothing about them.

Emma genuinely tries hard to ignite a romantic passion for Charles, but she fails miserably. Charles' passionate embraces do not move her because they follow a set pattern: "it was just one more habit, a sort of dessert he looked forward to after the monotony of dinner." Emma tries to release some of her frustrations. She often walks the dog to a derelict summerhouse in Banneville. It is here that she gives vent to some of her emotions. She longs for a more active life and talks to Djali, the Italian greyhound, about her troubles. All of nature seems to coincide with her growing misery; she notices the dog's melancholy features and the sighing sea breeze. Even the beauty of the trees and the sunset cannot shake her mood.

The Bovarys receive a pleasantly unexpected invitation; a patient of Charles, Marquis d'Andervilliers, asks Emma and Charles to come to his home, La Vaubyessard. Emma is delighted, and the Bovary couple accepts the invitation.


Emma is greatly disappointed to find that her husband is insensitive and coarse. She cannot share her emotional life with him because he just cannot understand her. She also finds that his habits repulse her. In fact she begins to ask, "O God, O God, why did I get married?" It is obvious that Emma finds married life extremely dull; she also feels deprived of living out her romantic fantasies. She again turns to her imagination as an outlet for relief. At least in her dreams, Emma finds some excitement. Flaubert is laying the foundation for Emma's later escapades.

Despite her disappointment in Charles, Emma considers it her 'duty' to find him physically attractive and sexually acceptable. Such an attitude reveals the woman's subordinate position in society during Flaubert's time; the wife was usually blamed for any marital discord and was expected to solve the marital problems on her own.

As a result of societal pressures, Emma is seen trying hard to ignite a passion for Charles. She cannot succeed, however, because she does not love him. She has only married him in order to change her life-style. Now that the initial glamour or marriage is past, Emma regrets her decision. She is at least relieved the she and Charles have received at invitation to La Vaubyessard.

Emma's mother-in-law poses another problem. She nurses an intense jealousy of and dislike for Emma. Charles' mother had hoped to always hold on to her son's affections and influence his decisions, but his new wife has changed all that. Emma refuses to be manipulated like Heloise; therefore, Mrs. Bovary sees Emma as her rival, and in spite of her son's happiness, she cannot be happy herself.

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