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Madame Bovary: short plot

Report on Madame Bovary Madame Bovary is a novel by Gustave Flaubert (1857), one of the fundamental works of French literature in prose.
It tells the story of Emma Rouault, daughter of a farmer, but educated in an elegant convent, wife of a mediocre provincial doctor, Charles Bovary. Nourished by ambitious and romantic aspirations and luxury dreams, she soon gets tired of the boring and flat life that leads to the countries of Normandy, where she meets only petty bourgeois, banal and smart like the pharmacist Monsieur Homais. Become the lover of a small nobleman in the surroundings and then of a notary practitioner. In the end, covered in debt and disappointed by reality, so different from her imagination, she poisons herself.
Madame Bovary was born as a book about nothing, a novel about a girl who dies young, between father and mother in a small province of France. This work was judged to be outrageous crudeness, the pivot on which Flaubert’s entire story revolves. Built through a structure made of long times, dotted with “key” scenes where the description becomes lively and the action is rhythmic: dancing in the Vaubyessard castle, agricultural rallies, seduction in the woods, Emma’s death … In the descriptions, every detail is functional to the scene and the overall design of the novel, suggesting the creation of the profile of the individual character and, at the same time, assumes a symbolic value in relation to the unfolding of the story. The most striking example is, at the beginning of the novel, the description of the cap by Charles Bovary which underlines the awkwardness of the wearer, described by the author to indicate the attitude of the boy and the man at the same time. On the Flaubert style he faces the new: with parallel speeches in different tones, the use of banality and phrases made in the moments of greatest dramatic tension, as if to underline the distance between the dream of the absolute and the “vulgarity” of everyday life. In Flaubert’s story, mediocrity wins, the constant striving between “wanting to be” and “being”. The novel, first published in installments in the Revue de Paris (1856), caused the author a trial for immorality, because it seemed (to the different morals of the time) that he wanted to portray corrupt costumes with complacency, while Flaubert’s severe ethics pronounces in reality an inexorable condemnation of the mediocre protagonist, seen against a bleak and lightless background. Choosing a modern and apparently modest subject, Flaubert also proposed to direct his talent as a writer to particular narrative difficulties and to overcome in himself the acute romanticism that had caused the failure of his first works. The caricature of the provincial bourgeoisie, the constant concern for respect for reality, the scientific accuracy with which every detail of the work was built, make Madame Bovary the first realistic and naturalistic novel of nineteenth-century French literature.

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