Leon Essay, Research Paper
In Gustave Flaubert?s Madame Bovary, the characters Leon Dupuis and Rodolphe Boulanger share similar attributes as well as contrasting ones. The similarity and contrasting characteristics of their personalities are illustrated through their actions, words, as well as by the remarks made by the other characters in the novel concerning them. Leon and Rodolphe are both admired by their peers, and they are both lovers of Madame Bovary, however, the resemblance ends there. Leon?s personality is the exact opposite of Rodolphe?s. Leon is humble, unassertive, and compassionate, while Rodolphe is haughty, unrelenting, and obdurate.
Leon?s modesty, shyness, and kindness are depicted through Flaubert?s description of him. ?[Leon] was shy by nature, with the sort of reserve made up of both modesty and dissimulation .? Flaubert also makes it evident that Leon is well liked and admired by others. ?In Yonville, it was found that he had ?very elegant? manners[?.]Monsieur Homais valued him for his education, and Madame Homais was fond of him for his friendliness since he often took the children to the garden.? Leon is also very timid and has difficulty expressing his feelings towards Emma. Leon ?tortured himself to discover how he could declare his feelings to her[.]? ?Leon, between the fear of being indiscreet and the desire for an intimacy that he imagined almost impossible, did not know how to proceed.?
Rodolphe, in contrast to Leon, is bold, ruthless, cunning, and devious. Rodolphe is ?hardhearted and extremely intelligent. He is also a very ?experienced? man; ?he had spent a lot of time in female company, and was very knowledgeable about women.? He is so intent on making Emma his that ?[he?ll] be bled, if [he has] to.? Rodolphe uses various ploys to try and woo Emma. He attempts to manipulate her by spewing forth sweet lies and portraying to be a pathetic, miserable man in order to gain her affections. Rodolphe claims that he ?arose and came [to Emma?s house] every night [?.and] little did [she] guess what was there, so near and yet so far, a poor miserable-?
Leon?s love for Madame Bovary is actually genuine, unlike Rodolphe?s. Emma ?continually rose in his heart, detaching herself from it in the magnificent manner of a goddess soaring to heaven.? Leon expresses to Emma how his mind is always thinking of her and the countless times he had visited her home. Leon recalls every single minute detail concerning Emma, the clothes she wore, and the furniture in her room. He exclaims that ?he had loved her at first sight and he was in despair when he realized the happiness he would have had if, by the grace of fate, they had met earlier and been indissolubly bound to each other.?
Unlike Leon, Rodolphe?s love for Emma is purely feigned. Emma is simply another mistress to Rodolphe, a passing fancy. He has no feelings for Emma at all and ?When he was sure of being loved, he stopped trying to please her, and his ways changed imperceptibly. He no longer used words so sweet that they made her cry[?.]nor were his caresses so ardent that they drove her mad.? Rodolphe soon became disinterested in Emma, and she ?resembled all his old mistresses, and the charm of novelty, falling away little by little like articles of clothing, revealed in all its nakedness the eternal monotony of passion.?
In this manner, Leon and Rodolphe are -depicted as two characters with similar and contrasting qualities. The juxtaposition of their differing personalities aid in adding distinction and emphasizing their personalities. In juxtaposing Rodolphe to Leon, Rodolphe?s true character can be seen. He is a manipulating, lying, duplicitous individual, while in contrast, Leon is a kindhearted, sincere, meek individual. Their contrasting and yet similar attributes accentuate the other character?s disposition.