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From earliest infancy, an individualís character is molded by experience. In Gustave Flaubertís novel entitled Madame Bovary, Emmaís unorthodox behavior during her married life can be attriuted to the illusions she maintained about life during her girlhood. These, combined with her fatherís disinterest in her mental happiness become the force which eventually leads Emma Bovary to commit suicide.
When she was 13 years old, Pere Rouault took his daughter, Emma, to town to put her in a convent where she would receive an education. She received more than her father bargained for. All that Emma later believed love should be, she learned from books there, mostly from romance novels lent to her and the other girls by an old maid who worked for the convent. In the fine pages of those books, Emma read of parted lovers, excitement, romance, knights in armor, and ladies in white satin dresses. These novels painted a world where palm trees and pine trees lived together, where lions and tigers roamed the forest, with Roman Ruins surrounded by virgin forests and lakes full of swans. "And the shaded oil-lamp . . . lit up all these pictures of the world, which flowed by on after another, in the silence of the dormitory, to the distant sound of a late cab somewhere still rolling along the boulevards." (page 30) In short, Emma fell in love with a world that never existed anywhere. She embraced the elegance of the life in the pictures which she had hung in her dormitory, and never did anyone tell her that such realities did not exist outside those pages. Wishing for the impossible she was never satisfied with the here and now. She could not find happiness, and when Charles came along she was already depressed with life, and was looking for anything to take her away in search of the things she was looking for.
Even Emmaís father contributed to her future unhappiness. He didnít particularly like the idea of having Charles as a son-in-law, how could he expect her to love him as a husband? As her father, he should have not let her marry a man she could never be happy with. He thought him "weedy", however, since he was short of money, and he owed a lot to the mason, he decided that "If he asks me for her, he can have her." (page 18) Just like he might sell a horse, so he got his daughter Emma off his hands and sent her along her way.
Needless to say, Charles was not the sort of person whom Emma had read about in any of her novels. No girl likes to have a guy follow her around all the time, sappy over every word she says and the smallest thing she does, and having nothing interesting to say at all. Imagine being stuck with this annoying guy instead of the dream man you had thought him to be, having to all the time conceal the disappointment from everyone. Her strong man clung to her like a baby, and held no mysteries or interesting things for her.
In youth she had had illusions to keep her happy, but they had been shattered one by one. Enter Rudolphe. Emma was sad, lonely, bored; he was exciting, handsome, and interesting. Her weakness drew her to him, and he knew just how to exploit that weakness. He was an experienced lover, she was a naieve housewife. The rest is history.
Coming from such dreams, her later unhappiness was inevitable. The characters from her dreams were not realistic, and by modeling her behavior after them, she could not be successful in the real world. This is why the story of Emma had to end as it did.
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Madame Bovary, Emma
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