Madame Bovary

The Dynamics of Fantasy and Reality in Madame Bovary


Artist M.C. Escher, famous for his deceptive manipulations of vignettes, once asserted that "Reality cannot exist without illusion, and illusion not without reality." There is no telling why Escher or countless others are preoccupied with the absurd, with the gray matter of the world; it is difficult to understand how reality can become so stale and trite as to force one to escape from it altogether. After all, there are so many paradigms left to break, so many conceptual questions left unanswered. Perhaps there are some who are innately lacking this recognition of the beauty and paradox of actuality, some who choose to ignore the authenticity of self and escape into some misapprehension, some dream.

In few works is this persona better epitomized than in Gustave Flaubert's classic 1857 publication Madame Bovary. Though the novel is often considered to be a commentary on the corruptible French Bourgeois, the story centers around the selfish machinations of Emma Bovary, a stifled housewife unsatisfied with the life she is leading. Emma, perhaps inadvertently, falls into a parallel world of wining and dining, balls, and other opulent misgivings that eventually lead her to a feeling of disgust for her true...

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