The novel “Madame Bovary” was based on the real story of the Delamar family, told to Flaubert by a friend – the poet and playwright Louis Buile. Eugene Delamard – a mediocre doctor from a remote French province, married in the beginning to a widow, and then to a young girl – became the prototype of Charles Bovary. His second wife, Delphine Couturier, languishing from bourgeois boredom, spending all her money on expensive outfits and lovers and committing suicide, formed the basis of the artistic image of Emma Rouault / Bovary. At the same time, Flaubert always emphasized that his novel is far from a documentary retelling of real history and the times even said that Madame Bovary does not have a prototype, and if there is, then he is the writer himself.
Five years have passed from the moment the concept was born and until the publication of the work. All this time, Flaubert carefully worked on the text of the novel, originally having a thousand pages and truncated to four hundred. In “Madame Bovary”, like in no other work of the French classic, his unique artistic manner was manifested, consisting in laconicism, clarity of expression of thought and the utmost accuracy of the word. Work on the novel was not easy for Flaubert. On the one hand, it was unpleasant for him to write about the vulgar life of the average bourgeois, on the other, he tried to do it as best as possible in order to show the reader all the ins and outs of the provincial bourgeois life.
The artistic problems of the novel are closely related to the image of the main character – Emma Bovary, who embodies the classic romantic conflict, which consists in the pursuit of ideal and rejection of base reality. The emotional throws of a young woman, meanwhile, take place against a purely realistic background and have nothing to do with the elevated positions of the past. She herself, “with all her enthusiasm”, was kind of “rational”: “in the church she liked flowers most of all, in music – the words of romances, in books of excitement of passions …”. “The sensual pleasure of luxury was identified in her heated imagination with spiritual joys, grace of manners – with the subtlety of experiences.”
Received a standard female education in the ursulinka monastery, Emma has been drawn to something unusual all her life, but every time she encounters the vulgarity of the world around her. The first disappointment overtakes the girl immediately after the wedding, when instead of a romantic holiday by the light of torches, she receives a farm feast, instead of a honeymoon, household chores for arranging a new home, instead of a handsome, smart, aspiring husband who wants to make a career — a good one, nothing but her an interested person with ugly manners. A random invitation to a ball at Vobiesar Castle becomes overwhelming for Emma: she realizes how much her life does not suit her, falls into longing and comes to life only after moving to Ionville.
Motherhood does not bring the main character of joy. Instead of the long-awaited son, Emma gives birth to a daughter. She cannot buy the desired children’s dowry due to lack of funds. The girl, like her father, has an ordinary appearance. Emma calls her daughter Berta – in honor of a woman she did not know from the Vobiesar ball – and practically forgets about her. Madame Bovary’s love for her daughter wakes up along with futile attempts to love her husband, which she has been doing throughout the novel, having become disillusioned with one or another passion.
For Emma, the first crush on assistant notary, the blond youth Leon turns into a platonic, full of emotional experience connection. Ms. Bovary did not immediately guess what was happening between her and the young man, but, realizing this, struggled to stay in the bosom of family and public morality. In public, she “was very sad and very quiet, very gentle and at the same time very restrained. Mistresses admired her prudence, patients – courtesy, poor – warmth. Meanwhile, she was full of lust, furious desires and hatred. ” At this stage of life, Emma is restrained from treason by her own “mental lethargy” and Leon’s inexperience.
After the young man, exhausted by unrequited love, leaves for Paris, Madame Bovary again plunges into anguish, from which she is torn out by a new, already quite adult passion in the form of her first lover – Rodolfo Boulanger. Emma sees in the thirty-four-year-old handsome romantic hero, while the wealthy landowner perceives the woman as another lover. Madame Bovary is enough for half a year of exalted love, after which her relationship with Rodolph passes into the status of “family”. At the same time, Emma perceives the break with a man so painfully that, as befits all romantic heroines, she almost dies of a fever.
The last stage of Emma’s spiritual fall falls on the second lover, the first lover – Leon Dupuis. The heroes who met a few years later already possess the licentiousness necessary to create a temporary pair and do not experience any remorse about what is happening. On the contrary, both Emma and Leon enjoy their love, but do so until another satiety comes.
Madam Bovary’s love affairs pass unnoticed for her husband. Charles adores his wife and blindly trusts her in everything. Being happy with Emma, he is not at all interested in how she feels, whether she is well, whether everything suits her in life? This infuriates Madame Bovary. Perhaps if Charles had been more attentive, she could have established a good relationship with him, but every time she tries to find something positive in him, he invariably disappoints her with his spiritual callousness, his medical helplessness, even his grief that has fallen on him him after the death of his father.
Confused in feelings, Emma is at the same time confused in money. In the beginning, she buys things for herself – to have fun, calm down, get closer to a beautiful life; then begins to give gifts to lovers, to equip his love nest in Rouen, squandering money for sensual pleasures. The financial collapse leads Emma to a spiritual collapse. She wholeheartedly feels the moral superiority of her husband, and deliberately leaves the life in which she never found happiness. Charles forgives his wife for treason and loss of fortune. He loves her in spite of everything, and dies after her, because he cannot live without her.