The Self Destruction Of Characters In Madame

Bovar Essay, Research Paper

Madame Bovary, as well as Crime and Punishment, can both be seen asexcellent novels. They can also be compared in many ways. Both in MadameBovary and Crime and Punishment there are characters that self-destruct dueto selfish ambitions. A few comparisons between the characters I have chosen,Emma and Marmeladov, include the worshipping of material things; carelessactions; and the harming of those they love. The two characters that I havechosen to compare have both wrecked their families by squandering theirfamilies’ money. This selfish use of money forces other people in the family toraise money any way that they can, to keep the family together. The familiesof both characters end up in a disaster. Marmeladov is a drunk Russian, who is fired by the government for hisconstant public drunkenness. His family does not trust him and he has nofriends. His “hopeless” life is ruined by his need for hourly intoxication. Hemeets Raskolnikov, the main character, in a bar. In his attempts to gain afriend, he tells Raskolnikov how he stole his family’s only money to go out andget drunk and have a good time. Raskolnikov, along with the reader, thinksthis is senseless. Even Marmeladov begins to question his own actions whenhe says, “Does not my heart ache to think what a useless worm I am?” He sayshe is sorry that he did such a thing and that he needs to go home for he hasnot been home in five days; his starving and deprived family needs him. Raskolnikov shows pity by taking him home and leaving him with somemoney. Raskolnikov soon learns the seriousness of Marmeladov’s problems whenhe meets Sonia, Marmeladov’s daughter. Sonia, the devout Christian, is ateenage girl whose father is a drunk. She decides that in order to save herfamily she needs to go into prostitution. She is not ashamed of her professionbecause it is a necessary evil. She loves her father though he is selfish. Raskolnikov and others see her as a nice, subservient girl, who would doanything for people she loves. She is the complete opposite of Marmeladov’scharacter. Her father does not seem to be ashamed of the fact that she is aRussian street walker which is very disheartening. The author of Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky, does notshine a particularly good light on all of these occurrences. As a matter of facthe uses a grating vocabulary in describing Marmeladov’s appearance andpersonality. This critical view of Marmeladov may be due to Dostoevsky’sEastern Orthodox background along with his lower middle class childhood. Itmay also be attributed to the conservative views Dostoevsky clung to afterserving five years in jail. His poor representation of Marmeladov shows hisstrong disapproval of being an alcoholic and a selfish deadbeat. Similarly, Madame Bovary is a story of overindulgence as well as greed. Emma Bovary uses and manipulates anything she can get her hands on. Thisbehavior is evidenced as Emma tricks her parents into leaving her a hugedowry that would last any reasonable person their entire life. She thenmarried Charles Bovary who was a country doctor. At first Emma is satisfiedwith Charles, but that satisfaction did not last long. She needed more fromhim. He is not as romantic as she liked and he does not spoil her enough. She begins to spend all of his money on herself and her flings. Emma Bovaryis completely selfish in everything she does. In Emma’s search for romanticism and material happiness, she has a fewflings. One of her suitors goes by the name of Leon. He is an immatureyoung man that she takes under her wing in order to develop him into aromantic love maker. She treats him with expensive gifts and takes him onlong coach rides. In the mean time the price tag for all of her gifts begins toaccrue. Her credit with a local merchant adds up, while the dowry her

parents se t up for her and her family is bone dry; her daughter and husbanddo not get any of it. Despite all of this, she begins to swindle money out ofher husband’s accounts and put him into debt. She even confronts patients ofhis claiming to speak on his behalf. She collects overdue payments from themwithout giving any of it to her husband. Her blinded husband can not figureout where all of his money has gone until it is too late. He loses his medicalpractice as well as his house due to the financial burdens Emma is causing. Emma inflicts a lot of pain on her husband and her friends because of herearthly desires. Emma on many occasions even uses good works to benefit herself. Shebecomes a serious Christian for a while to improve her image. One wouldassume that this did not work out for her, because the lifestyle she would haveto lead would be, to her, a deprived lifestyle. Emma always views her husbandas a good for nothing doctor who could not do anything right. When herhusband is preparing to perform a rare operation, one in which a successfuloutcome would make him, as well as her, famous, she all of a sudden becomesextremely supportive and helpful. These incidents exemplify Emma Bovary’slust for fame, fortune, and a good reputation. She will do whatever isnecessary to get her way. When Charles and Emma have a baby they were both excited at first. Soon Emma grows to hate the “ugly” and “burdensome” toddler. She oftenleaves the baby unattended for hours while she runs off on her romanticescapades. The baby often is deprived of necessities due to the fact thatEmma has dug Charles so deep in debt. She also likes to blame the child forher problems and carelessly look after it. She shows no love toward the childmost likely because it requires too much effort and provides little pleasure. Emma Bovary ends her life in the most selfish of ways. She commitssuicide. In doing so she leaves a husband with no money and a baby with noone to care for it. Berthe, the baby, ends up living with an impoverished auntand working in a cotton mill. Her mother leaves her with no dowry and nofuture. Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary, switched fromsympathetic to not so sympathetic throughout the novel. As Emma becomesmore vile and greedy, Flaubert appropriately portrayed her as being worse andworse. By the end of the novel the reader finds that he or she can not standEmma. Her materialistic thoughts and her selfish actions are unimaginable. Flaubert modeled Emma’s character most likely after himself. He was oftenbitter and unhappy due to the desparity that existed between his unattainabledreams and fantasies and the realities of life. He was often quoted saying,”Madame Bovary, c’est moi!”. He felt that he was one in the same withMadame Bovary. Many comparisons can be drawn between Madame Bovary and Crimeand Punishment. Both in Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment thereare characters that self-destruct due to indulgence of material things. A fewcomparisons between the two characters of these novels, Emma andMarmeladov, include the worshipping of material things; careless actions; andthe harming of those they love. As you can see these characters are verycomparable. Anyone opposing this idea would argue that Emma andMarmeladov meant well, but the facts state that the majority of their actionswere of a selfish intent. They do everything without regard to anyone else’swell being. The intentions of Flaubert and Dostoevsky were to surreptitiouslyridicule these selfish character flaws. Through these characters they were alsoable to lift up other characters such as Sonia, Marmeladov’s daughter. Experiences of their past affected the tone of language and the use ofdescriptive writing in their novels. Flaubert used Emma to represent his owncharacter flaws, while Dostoevsky was trying to get political points across. One knows that these views are widely accepted, though often poorlyexpressed.


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