Gustave Flaubert –  1821 – 1880

‘’ It was a bridal bouquet, the other women’s bridal bouquet. She looked at it, Charles noticed, picked it up and carried it off to the attic from the sight of Emma, while sitting on chair. 

Emma thought about her own wedding bouquet, which was placed away in a cardboard box, and wondered, what would be done with it if by chance she were to die ‘’

-Madame Bovary.

Born in Rouen on December 12, 1821, Gustave Flaubert was a French novelist, author of Madame Bovary, one of the masterpiece of the realist novel.  The realistic writer constructs his story, presents his character in such a way as to give the reader the impression of reality, and reader could feel that wherever they’re reading happened somewhere in the past in the real world. The place of actions belongs to the real world and all the characters go through situation which reader can feel like an everyday life. In XIX th century writers like Flaubert, Balzac, Maupassant dismantle the social mechanism that crushed the people and emphasize the influence of environment and heredity.

Yet the evolution of Flaubert’s mind remains instructive for an understanding of Realism as a literary creed. Flaubert had begun by writing a highly colored, imaginative story on The Temptation of Saint Anthony (1848), which his friends advised him to burn, torn down, or rewrite. Flaubert put it aside and began the novel that became Madame Bovary; the characters were of the most ordinary type, not an improbable Christian ascetic haunted by visions. Yet, even in the working out of his plain tale, Flaubert had to subdue his lyrical Romantic genius to the discipline he had adopted.

During young age, Flaubert was alone most of the time. He didn’t have any friends and usually spend his days in isolation. This may be gave him some time to focus on his literature and writing talent, he began to write play at the age of ten. Those were mostly romantic plays that adults would appreciate, now Flaubert starts focusing on writing on romantics

Upon completion his intermediate school in Paris he enrolled in law school but his heart lie somewhere else and found no interest in law and realize that literature would be his destiny. In 1856, the novel Madame Bovary was actually condemned as being pornographic. This was the award Flaubert think as his eminently honest and descriptive themes. Now he and his publisher were charged with violating good morals by painting the adulterous women and went to trial, but were soon acquitted, and eventually this publicity of the events happen bring the book out to the public arena while establishing popularity and praise. 

Although he didn’t like to be being famous, but his work titled him France’s most renowned writer. The evolution of Flaubert’s mind remains instructive for an understanding of Realism as a literary creed.

Flaubert does not seek to know everything about his characters like Balzac’s omniscient narrator. He does not give an exhaustive picture of his characters either, but proceeds by small touches through the chapters, which are completed and enriched as they go. The expressive description is particularly used: Flaubert does not hesitate to describe several times the same place, seen by different characters, in different circumstances. This kind of description provides powerful support for psychological analysis.

Flaubert use the direct speech dialogue quite rarer. He himself says that these dialogues are reduced to « monologues », because they are « chatter » that nobody listens to, and Everyone will be sent back to their solitude because there is no exchange. As a result, Flaubert favors free indirect speech to translate the thinking and psychology of his characters.

He recognizes indirect speech above all by the context. No introductory verb, no subordination mark (neither « that » nor « if »), respect for the concordance of tenses, but maintenance of punctuation and modalization marks (presence of the narrator’s judgment) through certain terms: adverbs, adjectives. Flaubert feels that free indirect speech expresses a thought content of the character and allows the reader to feel as close as possible to the thoughts of the character, thus creating an « effect of reality ».

The Flaubertian style is also characterized by the multiplication of narrative voices. The unity of the speaking subject is called into question, announcing the major narrative orientations of the 20th century. We sometimes do not know to whom to attribute the remarks, the judgments, the comments.

Flaubert grew up in a rather wealthy and prosperous family as a result of his father being a successful doctor (Kunitz 280). This could easily relate to the fact that Charles Bovary was a doctor too. Madame Bovary even before than this novel Flaubert exercise his pen on several from the early age by didn’t satisfy him that much. Maybe this is the reason Flaubert give his all to this novel which took 5 years to complete.

 “ Human speech is like a cracked cauldron in which we beat melodies to make bears dance, when we would like to soften the stars “

-Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary 

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