MHS AP Lit. 2012-2013 discussion

Madame Bovary
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Choice > Madame Bovary Part 3 (post #2)

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Ryan Gallagher (ryangallagher) | 24 comments Mod
Madame Bovary Part 3 (post #2)

message 2: by Rumana (new)

Rumana Papia | 8 comments A blind man appears throughout the novel, making his debut into the storyline when Emma Bovary returns home from one of her weekly rendezvous with Leon. Flaubert's description of this bloodcurdling man is as detailed as when he describes the subtle beauty of Madame Bovary. The contrasts in their descriptions are ironic since the bond shared between Emma’s life and the mans song is just as strong as the differences between Emma and the beggar’s appearance.
Flaubert describes the blind beggar in such a horrendous and gruesome way adding much specifications similar to how he describes Emma Bovary’s beauty. Her beauty is what attracts the men she later engages in sexual relations with, she learns to utilize it as a weapon but only up to a certain point. The beggars appearance also acts as a type of weapon or advantage since it is what earns him pity from the pubic. Madame Bovary can’t help but feel pity for “the poor devil” even though he disgusts her at the same time. It’s similar to how the audience might be disgusted by Emma at times due to her morality which is noticeably falling into a deep ditch of corruption. The fact that she continues to search for men even though she already has a devoted husband is what brings in hatred and negativity towards her character from the audience but the reason why she makes these choices is where the pity comes in. Her goal is to find the ultimate happiness, the happiness that she’s been dreaming of and feeding through the novels she indulges herself with.
The juxtaposition between the beggars appearance and the lyrics to his music parallel the appearance of Madame Bovary and her journey on the path of moral corruption. His crackly voice is enough to send chills down the listeners spines but the words to the song he screeches happens to be about “birds, sunlight, and green leaves.” This mans “flesh was falling away” yet the words he sang were able to “descend into the depths of her soul.” There’s a bond connecting the repulsive man and Madame Bovary. The beggar is present to emphasize the existence of a tie between beauty and corruption. The same tie exists in Emma, since “she only liked the sea because of the storms,” her personality isn’t one to be content with a peaceful traditional life. She seeks passion, pain, pleasure, and in that quest, her morality decays farther and farther until she is left in a state of total desperation.
One of the most vital moments in the novel is when Emma Bovary takes her last breath and more importantly, the fact that it coincides with the blind old beggars song. Flaubert includes the blind beggar in this momentous scene in order to emphasize the parallelism between the beggars song and Emma’s life. When he sings the lines from the last verse of his song, at that moment Madame Bovary experiences a spasm and bids farewell to the world just when “Nanette’s petticoat flew away.” The petticoat represents the woman’s innocence, its her dignity that no longer remains with her. Emma loses her respect and dignity when she goes begging on her knees for help from Rodolphe, she loses her dignity when she allows herself to go to Monsieur Guillaumin, the tax collector, and offer him her body in exchange for immediate financial assistance.
What the audience as well as the novels characters might have thought a friendly song turns out to be a story of a young woman and her path down the lane of corruption.The reason the woman’s petticoat flew away was because “the wind was blowing hard that day,” the wind representing the last hit that Madame Bovary could handle. It can be said that she’s responsible for all the troubles that she is forced to face but her motive behind the infidelities lies her quest for absolute happiness.

message 3: by Haley (new)

Haley Dowdie | 8 comments Reading on I realize more and more about Emma. Emma is a woman not easily sated. She has such high standards for contentment and thinks she knows the answer to her happiness, yet she foolishly does not regard the errors in herself. I feel as though Emma is a masochist- unintentionally hurting herself through her affairs, and almost in a state of denial that these affairs will bring her true happiness. Emma appears to be mentally unstable, resulting in her inability to handle uncontrollable events (such as Leon being late for their meetings). This mental instability may evoke from her insecurities with love and her relationships. A fear develops in Emma the moment her relationships get rocky. She also feels the need to please her lovers through gifts and constant reassurance, a clear sign in my opinion of her insecurities. Emma believes the love seen her stories is the true answer to happiness. She has in my opinion a false sense of happiness. What Emma has yet to realize, but eventually may realize is that affairs are temporary and will not bring her undying happiness for the rest of her days. I fear that she may be chasing her happiness like a dog chases its tail.
As for Charles, my frustrations have been growing with this character. Charles is completely naïve. Perhaps it is because he is overly trusting or totally unaware. I just find it odd that he does not suspect anything or even realize his wife’s discontentment with him and their life. Emma may be clever at covering her tracts thus far, yet I have a feeling her charades will only last a bit longer. The outcome may lead to her deepest fears and demise.
Rumana brings up an interesting point regarding the juxtaposition of Madame Bovary and the beggar. Nevertheless, I feel more so that Flaubert includes the beggar in the story almost to mirror or possibly foreshadow Madame Bovary. This beggar appears to be mentally unstable and needy .Throughout the novel, Madame Bovary demonstrates similar qualities (of course the beggars are more extreme). Madame Bovary constantly feels the need to have love in her life, and is constantly searching and requiring attention. A sense of emptiness fills within her when without the love and attention from her affairs. Emma enters into a phase of withdrawal and severe depression, mental states one might call unstable, just like that of the beggar. Perhaps the author wants the audience to recognize these similarities and in doing so, predict a crashing down fall in Emma, perhaps just as low and unraveled as the beggar in the story. Also, deep down I feel Emma recognizes these qualities within herself. Emma may also simply just fear her life becoming this way. She fears becoming lost, homeless, ragged like this beggar, which may occur as she continuously digs herself in a bigger hole by borrowing money and behaving recklessly, dishonestly, and cruelly to her husband and family through her affairs. Like the beggar Madame Bovary is slowly making her way to rock bottom. I do however agree with Rumana in regards to the beggars song and Emma’s dignity and self respect.

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