Passage commentary Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert
“He was so happy and had not a single care in the world. A meal together, and evening walk along the road, the way she put her hand up to her hair, the sigh of the straw hat hanging from a window latch, along with all the other little things that Charles has never even dreamed of, now made up the circle of his happiness. In bed, in the morning, close together on the pillow he gazed at the sunlight playing in the golden down on her cheeks, half hidden by the scalloped edges of her bonnet. So very close, her eyes seemed even bigger, especially when she first awoke and her eyelids fluttered into life.
Black in the shadows, and deep blue in full daylight, as if the colors were floating layer upon layer, thickest in the depths, coming clear and bright towards the surface. His eye drifted away into the deep, and there he saw himself in miniature, head and shoulder, with his nightcap on his head and his shirt unbuttoned. He would get up. She would go to the window to watch him leaving; and she would lean on the sill, between the two pots of geraniums, in her dressing gown, which was wrapped loose about her.
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Charles, down bellow, was buckling his spurs, one foot on the mounting-block; and she would carry on talking to him from above, biting a piece from a flower on a leaf, blowing it down to him, and it glided, it floated, it turned half circles in the air like a bird, catching, before it fell to earth, in the tangled mane of the old white mare, standing still at the door. Charles, from his horse, blew her a kiss; she waved to him, she closed the window, he was gone.
And so he went, along the open road, unrolling in an endless dusty ribbon, down sunken lanes curtained over with trees on footpaths where the corn grew knee-high, with the sun upon his shoulders and the morning air in his lungs, his heart filled with the night’s enjoyments, tranquil the spirit and contended the flesh, he went along, ruminating over his happiness, like those who, after a meal, still relish the taste of the truffles. ” (Page 25-26) Gustave Flauberts’ novel Madame Bovary is very descriptive, each event and character is described with so much detail.
This passage taken from page 25 of the book, shows how Flaubert uses color, movement and nature imagery to depict Charles’s happiness. This passage contradicts to many events that come after in the novel, Emma seems to be happy in this passage because she is not complaining or wishing she was somewhere else. Flaubert uses the word “happy” to describe how Charles is feeling; Charles has just gotten married to a woman he loves after being left a widow by a woman he didn’t love so much. Flaubert also uses the theme of circles in this passage, which is significant in every characters development.
Circles show the relationship between the choices the characters want to make and the destinies they have laid out in front of them. The passage uses color to describe Emma’s face, along with many other passages in the book. Emma’s face always has some kind of reflection to the sun when being described. This suggest that she wants to reach out to somewhere else, she has a certain glow that makes her belong to a higher society, although she doesn’t realize it before this passage. The sunlight and her face in this passage are described as ” the sunlight playing in the golden down her cheeks, half hidden by the scalloped edges of her bonnet. Even on page 13, it describes another event where the sun and her face meet, ” The parasol, made of marbled silk, as the sun came shinning through it, seem ed shifting colors over the whiteness of her face. There she was milking moist warmth of its shade; and you could hear the drops of water, one by one falling on the taut fabric. ” This description backs up the earlier suggestion, of the sunlight on her face being a symbol of where she wants to go, and where she thinks she belongs.
Emma in this book is a character that never likes what she has, therefore she always wants more or complains, or dreams of the luxurious life that she and her husband cannot afford. The night at the ball, she gets introduced to this other world, where she finds this ambience suiting her the most. After the passage, its starts to contradict the mood described by the passage because Emma starts to think about the ball, the viscount and Paris. “The memory of the viscount her reading . Between him and the fictional characters, she would forge connections.
But gradually the circles of which he was the center widened around him, and the halo that he wore, as it floated free of him, spread its radiance ever further, illuminating other dreams. ” She later goes through many things to make her dream world come through, she is selfish and ends up killing herself and leaving the characters that cared about her to build a life on their own. This passage has descriptions of new life, as if something was reborn, like “… her eyelids fluttered into life. ” this is as if she is starting to realize that she is not happy, and that she needs much more than just her quiet simple life.
A lot of movement is described in this passage, I think that this is because movement also describes the way life moves in this novel for each one of the characters. One of the movements best described must be the circles, it says ,”… along with all the other little things that Charles has never even dreamed of, now made up the circle of his happiness. ” there are also some other imagery of circles in this passage, “… it glided, it floated, turned half circles in the in the air like a bird catching before it fell to earth… this descriptions is describing the leaf that Emma bites from her window, and blows it down to Charles. The imagery at the end of the passage, “And so he went, along the open road, unrolling in an endless dusty ribbon, down sunken lanes curtained over with trees on footpaths where the corn gre knee-high… ” this description is a sort of a foreshadowing that should have happened but never does. The foreshadowing is Charles leaving Emma, because of everything she puts him through, the endless dusty ribbons suggest all the circles that Emma makes Charles face, like the circle of happiness, and the circle of sadness, etc.
The window in this passage seems to be significant in the rest of the book as a place where Emma finds refuge, and where she dreams of the world she wants. “Emma was stationed at her window (she was often there : the window, in the provinces, replace the dress and promenading), and she was amusing herself observing the throngs of rustic, when she noticed, a gentle man in a frock-coat of green velvet” (pg 101). Emma’s window is like an eye to this other world that she dreams she could belong to. This passage is just a complicated description of what seems to be a happy couple.
It describes a scene from the book, and its as if after this passage, everything goes downhill for the married couple. Emma starts complaining and she realizes that being married is not the happiest she had ever been, which leads to actions of adultery which effects Charles’ happiness. The imagery in this passage gives a sense of how Flaubert uses his techniques to describe the smallest thing. The sun is almost always associated to Emma’s face, and the circles are related to the movement of life in each characters development. This passage is like where Emma shuts her “window” on Charles, the window where she sees everything she wants to see.