Madame Bovary

Middle-Class Morality 12th Grade

Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, published in 1857, expresses his dislike of the French bourgeoisie. He mocks anyone not upper class declaring that they have no firm morals and survive solely on Romanticism. Flaubert uses literary techniques such as diction, figurative language, and syntax to openly criticize the middle class for abandoning their morals when it becomes convenient and beneficial for them.

Flaubert utilizes powerful diction to criticize the feelings of the middle class as they abandon their morals, finding that it can advance their place in the social caste. Emma Bovary, the protagonist of the novel, is in desperate need of money to pay a debt. In search of money she visits a notary of the town, when he desires sexual favors in return she accuses him of “taking shameless advantage of [her] distress… [She] is to be pitied- not to be sold” (Flaubert 280). Soon after, Flaubert mocks her for this statement as she voluntarily turns to thoughts of prostitution when she has previously declared that it is beneath her. Emma is unknowingly describing herself as “shameless”, subsequently abandoning her integrity when she feels it is needed. Afterwards, as part of her outrage and disgust at the thought of prostituting...

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