Madame Bovary

Communication: Translating the Written Into Dialogue

In Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary, the quest for the sublime and perfect expression seems to be trapped in the inability to successfully verbalize thoughts and interpret the words of others. The relationship between written words and how they are translated into dialogue and action is central in evaluating Emma's actions and fate, and ultimately challenges the reader to look at the intricacies of communication.

Flaubert's portrayal of Emma's reading habits provides the basic framework for evaluating the way she processes information. In the purest representation of Emma's readership, she "picked up a book, and then, dreaming between the lines let it drop on her knees."(43). Flaubert uses reading to establish Emma's short attention span to any thoughts outside of her own. The book falling towards the floor symbolically creates the space for her illusions-- notice Flaubert chooses the word "dreaming" instead of "reading," stressing her imaginative tendencies rather than those of a critical nature. In representing Emma's interpretation skills, her distortion of the material becomes a semi-conscious decision because she chooses to deviate from the original text, but at...

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