Centuries ago, in France, Gustave Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary. In 1899, Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening. The years cannot separate the books, and the definite similarities that the two show. Madame Bovary is the story of a woman who is not content with her life, and searches for ways to get away from the torture she lives everyday. The Awakening, much like Bovary, features a woman who is unhappy with her life, and wishes to find new adventures. The two books bear very strong similarities to each other, and the plots are almost exactly the same, though there are some subtle differences.
Set in two old cities in France, Emma Bovary, the main character in the first book, is not content with her life. She lives in a small town with a husband who is a well off doctor. She is not like many other women though; early in her life, her father sends her to a convent type school so that she can have an education away from the other less desirable parts of society. She is totally sheltered in this holy world. The only glimpse of the world outside the church walls is the one she experiences through romance novels. These books disillusion her and distort her view of the world. She believes that life should be a continuous fantasy in which she spends her life in constant ecstasy, like the women in her novels. "Why couldn't she be leaning her elbow on the balcony of a Swiss cottage with a husband dressed in a black velvet suit with long coattails, soft boots, a pointed hat, and elegant cuffs." (60) She is so dissatisfied with her life that she cannot see that she might have happiness, if she only tries to contribute to it. On the other side of the coin, Edna, of The Awake...
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...ssics. The question can never be asked of the authors; the similarities can merely only be discussed.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Auerbach, Eric "Madame Bovary." In B.F. Bart (ed.), Madame Bovary and the Critics (pp 132-143). New York: New York University Press. 1966.
Brombert, Victor. The Novels of Gustav Flaubert: A Study of Themes and Techniques. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1966
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. Ed. Margo Culley. New York: W.W. Norton, 1994.
Flaubert, Gustav. Madame Bovary (Lowell Bair, trans.). New York: Bantam Books 1996
Seyersted, Per, and Emily Toth, eds. A Kate Chopin Miscellany. Natchitoches: Northwestern State University Press, 1979.
Tillett, Margaret. "On Reading Madame Bovary." In B.F. Bart (ed.), Madame Bovary and the Critics (pp 1-25). New York: New York University Press. 1966
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