joi, 21 iulie 2011
Emma c'est toi!
Madame Bovary is one of the most important French novels of the 19Th century. It is vastly regarded as Flaubert's most important work, and is also considered socially relevant because it inadvertently served to inspire, if not signal the dawn of feminism. Flaubert's adulterous heroine, the author's alter-ego of sorts, was happy in her transgressions, her actions seemingly justified by her dull and lifeless marriage.
But getting back to our main "raison d'être", let us whet your appetite as to the novel we have chosen to feature on our website:
Madame Bovary is the story of Emma Bovary, an unhappily married woman who seeks escape through forbidden relationships with other men. The book could be viewed as an expose of the situation of women in the 19Th century; women who had not yet been emancipated and were expected to obey their husbands, to stay in their homes while the men went to work, or left for months on end to fight in wars. Emma Bovary also serves as a voice for Flaubert, who patterned the character's personality after his own. Emma Bovary's "rebellious" attitude against the accepted ideas of the day, reflects Flaubert's views of the bourgeoisie. Ultimately, Madame Bovary's indiscretions and her obsession with Romance lead to her downfall, which not only appeases the guardians of morality, but shows us Flaubert's view of the world wasn't one of naive optimism.
It is not without purpose that Flaubert asserted (and billions of other people, after him) 'Madame Bovary s'est moi'. He manages to capture real, thinkable thoughts that every humane being can have at a certain time. But why do so many people identify themselves with this colorful and picturesque character, Emma? Is it because she's frail, vulnerably delicate and incredible beautiful - how one would imagine being, as a character in a book (yes, I am pointing mostly at the feminine part of the 'cast'). Or is it because Emma is what we like to call a dreamer - unhappy, but hopping... Or maybe because every single soul is longing for everlasting love, and that eagerness excuses her for everything?
She is a horrible woman, without a doubt. The way she treats her baby, her husband, her mother-in-law, the way she has no sympathy for the poor, the needy, the helpless around her, the way she spends her time and money on egocentric rubble, makes Emma a despicable woman. But! We can't help loving her, understanding her, appreciating what she stands for. And there is a pretty good reason for that. She was created perfect. Not as a humane being, but as a character. She is a perfect character. We understand her! That's why we love her. Because we understand. And when she lets her feelings free and dares to fantasise about the Vicomte, we too aspire for that fantasy to come true, to apprehend that everlasting love trapped in a smile, that heart-skipping line, that soft, barely noticeable touch. And again, we understood her love for Leon, too, as there is a pure feeling, a real intense struggle that needs gazing and poetry. We understand the despair and the need of poison, the need to give up all the consequences of all the bad decision she took.
Is just... Somehow it's not fair, because we - the readers - were next to her when she took all her decisions (let me be!) and we supported her, we too smiled shyly when she was pacing on forbidden paths - because we too were thrilled by having the courage or the insanity to act that way. So I find it unfair. Full Stop. I find the ending unfair because she dies and I got to learn about the apothecary's affairs... The rightness of my reading experience has to press a red light and to admit that I would have been overexcited if something had happened to me too. If I would have died with her - the end. - or if her death would have driven Charles to be a less mediocre person.
Some people might consider her type of character doomed to an unhappy life. I rather consider her brave for not giving up the desire to live more, to feel more, to love more, be it for her own unhappiness.
Damn hard to write on such a delicate topic in english, I'll quit for now and start again after I've finished reading my one thousand book. Grrr...
Picture from: http://www.toutlecine.com/images/film/0006/00061890-madame-bovary.html