Madame Bovary

Analysis of the Agricultural Fair Scene in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

Analysis of the Agricultural Fair Scene in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary

In writing Madame Bovary, Flaubert would often spend days in search of "le mot juste". As a result, not only his sentences but his scenes are beautifully crafted. One such example is the agricultural fair scene in the novel where the town gathers to celebrate achievements in farming. As a plot devise, the fair is important because it helps bring together Emma and Rodolphe. It is during this scene that Rodolphe seduces Emma and they begin their ill-fated affair. However, the importance of this scene extends far beyond its plot function. Flaubert creatively constructs the scene such that the councilor’s speech and Rodolphe’s speech are juxtaposed and each mocks the other. Flaubert also uses this scene to criticize Emma’s romanticism and the stifling mediocrity of the French bourgeoisie. Altogether, this scene contains many of the broader themes of the novel and is emblematic of Flaubert’s brilliant use of irony.

Perhaps the first thing to notice while reading this chapter is how Flaubert places his characters in the scene to create three different planes of action. At the very bottom is the faceless crowd gathered for the Fair: “the crowd came into the...

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