Madame Bovary

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[In the following essay, Williams discusses Flaubert's belief in the influence of cultural conditioning as a determinant of gender roles, pointing to motifs in Madame Bovarythat illustrate the restricted and highly artificial role of women in a patriarchal society.]

Madame Bovary was put on trial when it was first published largely on account of its intense critical interrogation of the assumptions that collectively make up the common-sense outlook on life in ninteenth-century France. The subversive force of the novel is directed most obviously against that cornerstone of bourgeois society, marriage.1 This subversion of the conventional view of marriage is, however, connected with a more fundamental attack upon another received idea, what, in a different context, has been described as the “ideological image, repeated and naturalised a thousand times in the fiction of the period, of the very reality of 'woman' as the passive, inert creature of the domestic world of the nineteenth-century family”.2 Although the objection against Flaubert's novel was not formulated in these terms, it is against the conventional view of woman as essentially passive and inert that the novel offended most deeply. At an earlier point in the writing of the novel, Emma appears dressed in a waistcoat and Charles's mother is shocked by “ce bouleversement des sexes et de toutes les convenances”.3 It is the implications of this and other examples of overturning of conventional gender distinctions which this article will explore.

In many respects it is surprising that Flaubert should have mounted one of the most ferocious and sustained attacks upon conventional gender distinctions. In his letters he often sounds like a typical nineteenth-century misogynist, slipping into what sounds like mindless denigration of the opposite sex.4 The negative views expressed in the letters are, however, directed not so much against something innate in women as against a pattern of behaviour which has been induced by social conditioning. Flaubert has a strong awareness that women are not born but made: “La femme est un produit de l'homme. Dieu acréé la femelle et l'homme a fait la femme; elle est le résultat de la civilisation, une ouvre factice.”5 Flaubert's view coincides with that of his contemporary, Stuart Mill, who in The Subjection of Women asserted that “what is now called the nature of woman is an eminently artificial thing—the result of forced repression in some directions, unnatural stimulation in others”. Flaubert clearly recognises that what are commonly regarded as the principal characteristics of the opposite sex are in fact the result of a process of cultural conditioning. Central to this process of cultural conditioning is the conventional education to which girls are submitted:

On apprend aux femmes à mentir d'une façon infâme. L'apprentissage dure toute leur vie. [ ... ] Le puritanisme, la bégueulerie, le système du renfermé, de l'étroit, dénature et perd dans sa fleur les plus charmantes créations du bon Dieu. [ ... ] J'ai peur du corset moral, voilà tout. Les premières impressions ne s'effacent pas, tu le sais.6

Like Stendhal, Flaubert believes that the cultural conditioning of women entails the radical loss of half of humanity which becomes alienated from an original femaleness.7 Flaubert's strategic distinction between “la femelle” and “la femme” is close to the now familiar distinction between sex and gender. Although sex and gender have frequently been confused in the past, “the threadbare tactic of justifying social and temperamental differences by biological ones” is now largely discredited. As Angela Carter insists, although sexual differentiation of a biological nature is an unarguable fact, “separate from it, and only partially derived from it, are the behavioural modes of masculine and feminine, which are culturally defined variables translated in the language of common usage to the status of universals”.8 Flaubert, arguably, shows a similar awareness of the relativity of gender stereotypes.

The fictional world of Madame Bovary is marked by the over-differentiation of the sexes which characterises patriarchal society. Despite his considerable limitations, Charles receives an education as a health officer which equips him for a useful role in society whilst Emma, despite her greater intelligence and ability, receives an education in the Rouen convent-school which provides her with skills which have little practical relevance to her subsequent life. The marriage between Charles and Emma is arranged initially between Charles and Emma's father; Charles is legally the head of the household and special powers of attorney have to be granted to Emma in order to allow her to settle his financial affairs after the death of his father. Adultery, like marriage, is organised more according to the man's convenience and this is perhaps one of the reasons why, in Flaubert's memorable comment, Emma “retrouvait dans l'adultère toutes les platitudes du mariage” (p. 296).9 Rodolphe's early display of chivalry gives way to brutality—“Il la traita sans façon” (p. 196)— and it soon becomes clear, as Tony Tanner puts it, that adultery has no manners.10 This rigid division according to sex is underpinned by gender stereotypes which command wide assent. Emma has an exalted conception of line opposite sex: “Un homme, au contraire, ne devait-il pas tout connaître, exceller en des activitiés multiples, vous initier aux énergies de la passion, aux raffinements de la vie, à tous les mystères?” (p. 42). Her view of women is correspondingly low; she complains to Rodolphe that women are deprived of the right to roam the world and to Léon that they live useless lives. When she is angry with Léon she thinks of him as being “plus mou qu'une femme” (p. 288). Significantly Emma wishes to have a boy child:

Un homme, au moins est libre; il peut parcourir les passions et les pays, traverser les obstacles, mordre aux bonheurs les plus lointains. Mais une femme est empêchée continuellement. lnerte et flexible à la fois, elle a contre elle les mollesses de la chair avec les dépendances de la loi. Sa volonté, comme le voile de son chapeau retenu par un cordon, palpite à tous les vents. (p. 91)

This naive view of the differences between the sexes gave rise in an early version to the following significant comment:

Chaque sexe [ ... ] par ignorance de l'autre, lui suppose des qualités qu'il n'a pas, comme les siècles supposent aux siècles précédents des énergies que la distance seule leur donne. (Nouvelle version, p. 265)

Given the exalted notion of what it is to be man, it is hardly surprising that Emma repeatedly wishes she were a man: “Que n'était-elle un homme! Comme elle aurait fait siffier au vent la méche de sa cravache! Comme elle aurait couru dans le monde!” (Nouvelle version, p. 226). Likewise Charles also experiences envy of the opposite sex: “Que n'était-il pas la mère, lui! comme il aurait du plaisir à se telever la nuit et à allaiter la petite fille, en lui parlant doucement!” (Nouvelle version, p. 269). In this kind of instance, gender stereotypes provide the focus for a kind of existential dissatisfaction. Neither Charles nor Emma is entirety happy with the masculine or feminine role accorded to their sex.

Gender distinctions may be completely fallacious, but they die hard. If Emma is unable to shake off an idealised image of the opposite sex, which has the unfortunate effect of making the actual men she knows seem totally defective, it is largely on account of the cultural conditioning which has taken place in the convent-school. MadameBovary is attentive to the construction of gender stereotypes in the sentimental novel. The world of the sentimental novel and the keepsake projects an image of man as strong and active and of the woman as weak and passive. Whilst the gentlemen are strikingly mobile, riding horses to death or galloping out of the distant countryside on a black charger, the ladies are shown lolling in carriages or reclining on sofas (p. 39). It is the “literature of patriarchy” which leads Emma to believe that fulfilment can be found only through a man.11 Despite all the evidence to the contrary, she thinks marriage to Charles will allow her to possess “cette passion merveilleuse qui jusqu'alors s'était tenue comme un grand oiseau au plumage rose planant dans la splendeur des ciels poétiques”, only to find that the quietness of married life is far removed from “le bonheur qu'elle avait rêvé” (p. 41). Subsequently she continues to believe that she needs simply to “placer sa vie sur quelque cour solide” in order to be happy, only to discover that neither of her lovers is able to sustain his devotion. Emma's behaviour is highly contradictory: she strives with an energy and forcefulness unrivalled by any of the male characters to put herself in a position of complete dependence upon a man who she hopes will sweep her off her feet. The masculine counterpart of this process of self-mutilation involves Charles being conditioned into believing that a man should be strong as a medical student in Rouen, he finds work in the hospital difficult to stomach but “se raidit de son mieux dans l'idée qu'il était un homme, et qu'il fallait faire bonne mine et qu'il faut qu'un homme soit énergique” (Nouvelle version, p. 143). Flaubert shows, particularly in earlier drafts, how both Emma and Charles try to live up to highly questionable gender stereotypes and are led into patterns of behaviour which run counter to their natural inclinations.

The validity of the conventional view of the sexes is on occasion challenged directly in narratorial comments. Rodolphe, we are told, has avoided Emma “par suite de cette lâcheté naturelle qui caractérise le sexe fort” (p. 3:16). Flaubert prefers, however, to allow the behaviour of his characters to speak for itself. If one takes a global view, Emma, in particular, shows more audacity, resolution and courage than all the male characters, though the goals to which these qualities are directed may seem misplaced. She is also a good deal more self-centred, strong-willed, forceful and domineering than both Charles and Léon. In contrast, Charles is more “feminine”—he is placid, undemanding, submissive, the passive partner in the marriage. Whilst Emma dreams of escaping to some exotic never-never land, Charles directs all his desire and energy to the domestic sphere.

Flaubert's presentation of the development of Emma Bovary points to a malleability' as she draws upon a repertoire of both “masculine” and “feminine” roles. Emma's so-called “masculine” qualities are not immediately apparent; they gradually emerge in the course of the novel, leading to a slow dismantling of the conventional view of woman. Emma seeks to get the upper hand in all of her relationships with men. Once she has made the rather belated discovery that Charles does not conform to the image of the perfect man she has derived from her reading of the sentimental novel, Emma takes the initiative, reading him romantic poems by moonlight in the hope that he might be elevated to a higher plane. Charles cannot be prodded into the kind of artificial response she requires and Emma treats him in an increasingly scornful and imperious manner. Compared to other literary husbands, Charles is strikingly decent and devoted, but, for Emma, he becomes “l'obstacle à toute félicité, la cause de toute misère, et comme l'ardillon pointu de cette courroie complexe qui la bouclait de tous côtés” (p. 111). In the course of the novel, he is divested of all the trappings of patriarchal power as Emma adds to the sexual supremacy gained on the first night of their marriage emotional, intellectual and financial control. In contrast, Rodolphe conforms to the traditional image of the strong male and Emma is sexually subjugated by him: “Ce n'était pas de l'attachement, c'était comme une séduction permanente. Il la subjugait. Elle en avait presque peur” (p. 175). Even with Rodolphe, however, Emma gains a kind of supremacy, forcing him to act out the charade of the romantic lover and showering him with humiliating gifts: “Cependant ces cadeaux l'humiliaient. Il en refiusa plusieurs; elle insista, et Rodolphe finit par obéir, la trouvant tyrannique et trop envahissante” (p. 195). There is something profoundly contradictory about Emma's behaviour as, with an authority Rodolphe finds difficult to resist, she urges him to play the part of the masterful lover and carry her away. His final failure to do this points both to the falsity of the image of the romantic lover and the limits of the woman's power in adultery. It is with Léon, in the third part of the novel, that Emma achieves a kind of apotheosis. Léon, we are told. “devenait sa maîtresse plutôt qu'elle n'était la sienne” (p. 283). Emma uses him in the same way as Rodolphe has used her—as a convenience. Léon is powerless to resist Emma's total domination: “Il en voulait à Emma de cette victoire permanente. Il s'efforçait même à ne pas la chérir; puis, au craquement de ses bottines, il se sentait lâche, comme les ivrognes à la vue des liqueurs fortes” (pp. 288-9). Once again, however, the limits of Emma's control are exposed; Léon does not extricate her from her financial crisis, just as Rodolphe has resisted running away with her. At the end of the novel, Emma experiences a generalised anger against the opposite sex. After Guillaumin has attempted to take advantage of her position, “Elle aurait voulu battre les hommes, leur cracher au visage, les broyer tous” (p. 310). She cannot bear the thought of Charles pardoning her (“Cette idée de la supériorité de Bovary sur elle l' exaspérait”, p. 311) and when Rodolphe refuses to lend her money, she flings his cufflinks against the wall (p. 318). The heroism she has failed to elicit from men finally wells up in Emma herself: 'Puis, dans un transport d'héroïsme qui la rendait presque joyeuse, elle descendit la côte en courant [ ... ] et arriva devant la boutique du pharmacien” (p. 320). There is, however, one final symbolic confrontation to come. As Emma is about to die she hears the Blind Man's coarsely sexist ditty and responds with despairing laughter: “Et Emma se mit à rire, d'un rire atroce, frénétique, désespéré, croyant voir la face hideuse du misérable qui se dressait dans les ténèbres éternelles comme un épouvantement” (pp. 332-3). One crucial feature of this horrific figure, as of “Dieu le Père tout éclatant de majesté” of her earlier, contrasting, “vision splendide” (p. 219), is its sex: whether she is to be saved or damned, Emma's cultural conditioning puts her at the mercy of an embodiment of ultimate power and authority who is male.

Gender distinctions are explored in a more oblique and suggestive way through the novel's extraordinarily rich web of symbolic suggestion. A number of motifs can be related to the position of the woman in society. The motif of bending, for instance, according to Tanner's reading, suggests not simply the sexual dominance of the male but more generally the inevitable female submission to the matrix of the male world around her: “She must and can only 'bend' trader it to the shapes, postures, and positions that it offers, imposes, or dictates.”12 This interpretation is supported by the implications of the words of the Blind Man's song.13 Emma's bending, however, has an energetic quality which belies the notion of submission. When Charles's whip slips behind some wheat-sacks, Emma bends over to retrieve it:

Et il se mit à fureter sur le lit, derrière les portes, sous les chaises; elle [the whip] était tombée à terre, entre les sacs et la murallie. Mademoiselle Emma l'aperçut; elle se pencha sur les sacs de blé. Charles, par galanterie, se précipita et, comme il allongeait son bras dans le même mouvement, il sentit sa poitrine effleurer le dos de la jeune fille, courbée sous lui. Elle se redressa toute rouge et le regarda par-dessus l'épaule, en lui tendant son nerf de bouf. (p. 17)

A similar incident can be found in George Eliot's Middlemarch, where it serves to confirm rather than undermine traditional gender distinctions. At one point Rosamond is portrayed going towards her whip, which lies at a distance:

Lydgate was quick in anticipating her. He reached the whip before she did, and turned to present it to her. She bowed and looked at him: he of course was looking at her, and their eyes met with that peculiar meeting which is never arrived at by effort, but seems like a sudden divine clearance of haze. I think that Lydgate turned a little paler than usual, but Rosamond blushed deeply and felt a certain astonishment.14

There is no bending in Rosamond's case but there is no implied symbolic exchange of power either since the whip in question is her own and Lydgate gets to it first. The power relations between the sexes remain undisturbed, whereas in Madame BovaryEmma counteracts the notion of submission implicit in her bending by reaching the whip first and handing it over to Charles. In another highly charged episode, Emma is shown bending over to remove the bowl of blood which has caused Justin to faint:

Madame Bovary prit la cuvette. Pour la mettre sous la table, dans le mouvement qu'elle fit en s'inclinant, sa robe (c'était une robe d'été à quatre volants, de couleur jaune, longue de taille, large de jupe), sa robe s'évasa autour d'elle sur les carreaux de la salle;—et, comme Emma, baissée chancelait un peu en écartant les bras, le gonflement de l'étoffe se crevait de place en place, selon les inflexions de son corsage. (p. 132)

Once again Emma is handling something with strong masculine associations and this, combined with the energetic connotations of the description of her dress, partially offsets the humiliating implications of her action.

A second motif which defines the domestic imperative governing the woman's role is sewing. Emma either sews incompetently or endows sewing with an autoerotic quality. The one time her heart is in her work is when she is undoing the lining of a dress, just as in adultery she has unravelled the very fabric of married life (p. 258). Appropriately, it is Charles who performs the classically restorative function of sewing properly, sewing up his daughter's dolls when they split open (p. 350). A third motif which points to the essential nature of the woman's lot is constriction. On numerous occasions Emma is depicted within an enclosed space, and she perceives her existence in terms of cold rooms, narrow houses, belts that hem her in. Her natural inclination, however, is to try to break out of narrow confines in order to soar in the vast open spaces of the romantic dream. In contrast, Charles takes fright at open spaces and longs for enclosed domesticity. Once again, therefore, what emerges from a traditional motif associated with the woman's position is a powerful resistance on Emma's part, suggesting that she is not at ease within the conventional role accorded to her.

Further suggestions are made through the close descriptions of Emma's physical appearance. Her frequently bulky garments can point to something burdensome in her condition as a woman—whether married or adulterous—but her dress can also have an expansive grace which evokes a triumphant femininity.15 Throughout the novel, however, Flaubert describes various items and appendages which have strong masculine associations in order to measure, as it were, an increasing quotient of “masculinity”. The tortoiseshell eyeglasses, attached, in masculine fashion, to two buttonholes of her bodice, and introduced in the first description of Emma (p. 17), represent a key component, a deliberately dissonant note in an otherwise traditionally orchestrated feminine appearance. Subsequently, she will wear a blue silk tie on arriving in Yonville, and a man's hat and riding costume for the ride with Rodolphe; and she will step out of the coach “la taille serrée dans un gilet, à la façon d'un homme” (p. 197) and dress in masculine attire for the masked ball (p. 297). These masculine elements have been regarded negatively. Diana Festa-McCormick, for instance, claims that “no longer a gesture of daring, the male costume stands in reality for an act of surrender, confirming Emma's defeat in the dominion of the woman”;16but this is to subscribe to a highly questionable view of woman's role. Emma is also made to manipulate a wide range of patently phallic substitutes. Emma not only retrieves Charles's whip, she also makes Rodolphe a present of a handsome riding-whip. Emma may be shown “regrettant de n'être pas un homme pour sauter sur un poignard” (Nouvelle version, p. 586), but she can “look daggers” at Charles.17 The main male characters all have knives which they use in symbolically appropriate fashion, but Emma too has a knife which she uses disconsolately to make lines on the waxed table cloth: “[elle] s'amusait, avec la pointe de son couteau, à faire des raies sur la toile cirée” (p. 67). A particularly ambiguous appendage is the sunshade, whose fragility is often associated with femininity. On the occasion when for the first time her thoughts about her marriage become clear, Emma is shown poking the ground with its tip: “Puis ses idées peu à peu se fixaient, et, assise sur le gazon, qu'elle fouillait à petits coups avec le bout de son ombrelle, Emma se répétait: 'Pourquoi, mon Dieu! me suis-je mariée?'” (p. 46). She also usurps what at the time was a specifically male prerogative, smoking in public “comme pour narguer le monde” (p. 197), as well as playfully putting Rodolphe's big pipe into her mouth (p. 169).

The significance of Emma's adoption of masculine modes of dress and manipulation of phallic substitutes requires careful consideration. The first point to be made is that they do not displace feminine modes, and that Emma continues to exhibit many of the traditional features of femininity against which Flaubert railed in his correspondence—role-playing, sentimentality, lack of frankness, the pursuit of an impossible ideal. It is clearly inappropriate, therefore, to speak of Emma's masculinisation since masculine modes do not take the place of feminine modes. She also possesses what Baudelaire reffered to as a “charmant corps féminin”,18 a delicately realised physical presence. One interpretation might be that the adoption of masculine modes is yet another example of role-playing, which is no more privileged than her adoption of feminine modes the rest of the time. There does, however, seem to be more at stake than such a view implies. The broader context in which some office developments discussed take place is one of symbolic exchange.19 Male characters undergo a symbolic emasculation—Emma's father breaks his leg, Hippolyte has his amputated. A large number of objects associated with the power and influence of men are broken, or given to men by Emma. Flaubert has created a fictional world where the masculinity of men is, symbolically, in retreat and males in various ways shown to be defective. In this context, Emma's assumption of masculine modes suggests a takeover or exchange and has as its counterpart Charles's assumption of feminine modes. What Flaubert has engineered in the elaboration of a number of symbolic patterns is a full-scale realignment of the sexes in relation to gender stereotypes. René Girard has stressed the way in which, as Flaubert develops, there is a tendency for oppositions to be subverted and polarities to collapse with the end result that what are traditionally viewed as contraries are shown to share a good deal, if not to be identical.20 This seems to be what happens to the opposition between the sexes. By endowing Emma with marked masculine traits and Charles with feminine traits, Flaubert problematises, or perhaps even collapses, the conventional opposition between male and female. In order to subvert such an opposition, however, Flaubert relies on well-defined gender stereotypes. A hard-and-fast distinction between the sexes is nullified by the way in which Emma displays “masculine” traits and Charles “feminine” traits.

Flaubert's creation of a heroine with masculine traits has often been viewed as a failure to create a completely convincing character. From Baudelaire to Sartre, critics have argued that a man's blood—Flaubert's own—flows through Emma's veins. Such comments are based, however, on precisely those categories that the novel queries and make us aware just how radical Flaubert's critique of traditional gender stereotypes was.21 It would, however, be wrong to think of Flaubert as a champion of the androgynous ideal which attracted many nineteenth-century writers. This is largely because so-called feminine and masculine traits are not brought into a state of harmony. Indeed it could be argued that Emma is destroyed by her failure to resolve the contradiction between her “masculine” and “feminine” tendencies.22 Although Flaubert subverts the rigid opposition between male and female which characterises patriarchal society; although, in his prirate life, Flaubert declared that he wanted Louise Colet to become an “hermaphrodite sublime”; and although in his own person he detected “les detux sexes”,23

Madame Bovary suggests that a free, non-problematic choice of gender roles—the androgynous ideal—is a long way off. Emma's adoption of masculine modes does not, after all, do her much good and it is profoundly ironic that her most forceful act is to commit suicide. Nor is Charles's gravitation to the feminine pole a recipe for survival. Like Emma, he too comes to an untimely end, dying pathetically of a broken heart. It is partly a question of the kind of society in which cross-gender behaviour takes place but, whilst he clearly rejects the conventional view of sexual difference, Flaubert does not offer the reader any new, heady, gender cocktail.


1. Louis Bouilhet's comment on Flaubert's use of the generalising definite article (dumariage) in the famous sentence “Emma retrouvait dans l'adultère toutes les platitudes du mariage” is significant: “tu attaques la société par true de ses bases” (Quoted in C. Gothot-Mersch's edition of the novel, (Paris: 1971), p. 463). D. LaCapra has argued that Flaubert's novel was put on trial because “the ideological image of the modern family as the holy family is called into question” (“Madame Bovary” on Trial, (Cornell: 1982), p. 9).

2. C. PrendergastBalzac: Fiction and Melodrama, (London: 1977), p. 139.

3. Madame Bovary: Nouvelle version, ed. J. Pommier and G. Leleu, (Paris: 1949), p. 424. All references to earlier versions of the novel will be to this edition.

4. Flaubert's complex and contradictory attitude to women has been discussed most fully by L. Czyba in Mythes et idéologie de la femme dans les romans de Flaubert, (Lyon: 1983).

5. Correspondance, ed. J. Bruneau, (Paris: 1980), ii, 284.

6. Correspondance, ed. J. Bruneau, (Paris: 1973), i, 711.

6. Flaubert does not, however, acknowledge the difficulty of determining the characteristics of this original female nature. Cf. John Stuart Mill: “I deny that anyone knows, or can know, the nature of the two sexes, as long as they have only been seen in their present relations to one another” (quoted in M. Midgley and J. Hughes,Women's Choices. Philosophical Problems facing Feminism, (London: 1983), p. 207).

8. The Sadeian Woman, (London: 1979), p. 6.

9. Pages references are to the Gothot-Mersch edition (Paris: 1971).

10. Adultery in the Novel, (Princeton: 1979), p. 367.

11. See R. W. Greene, “Clichés, moral censure and heroism in Flaubert's MadameBovary”, Symposium, 32 (1978), pp. 289-302.

12. Adultery in the Novel, p. 354.

13. The words of the Blind Man's song, relayed fully at the moment of Emma's death (p. 332) are: “Pour amasser diligemment / Les épis que la faux moissonne, / Ma Nanette va s'inclinant / Vers le sillon qui nous les donne.” The complex relationship between Emma's bending and that of Nanette is discussed in my “Quotation inMadame Bovary”, Romance Studies, 12 (1988), pp. 29-43.

14. Middlemarch, Part I, xii, (Harmondsworth: 1965), p. 145. I am grateful to my colleague, David Roe of Leeds University, for drawing my attention to the similarity between the two passages.

15. See, in addition to the passage on p. 132 already quoted, the description on p. 101: “Son vêtement, ensuite, retombait des deux côtés sur le siège, en bouffant, plein de plis, et s'étalait jusqu'à terre.”

16. “Emma Bovary's masculinisation. Convention of clothes and morality of conventions”, in Gender and Literary Voice, ed. J. Todd, (New York, 1980) (Women and Literature. I, 1980), p. 234.

17. See p. 190: “elle fixait sur Charles la pointe ardente de ses prunelles, comme deux flèches de feu prêtes à partir.”

18. See “Madame Bovary” in L ' Art romantique, (Paris: 1968), p. 224: “Comme la Pallas armée, sortie du cerveau de Zeus, ce bizarre androgyne a gardé toutes les séductions d'une âme virile dans un charmant corps féminin.”

19. See M. Picard's excellent article, to which this discussion is indebted, “La prodigalité d'Emma”, Littérature, 10 (1973), pp. 77-97.

20. “A mesure que mûrit le génie romanesque flaubertien, les oppositions se font toujours plus creuses; l'identité des contraires s'affirme avec toujours plus de force”,Mensonge romantique et vérité romanesque, (Paris: 1961), p. 157.

21. R. Lloyd rightly points out in her recent study that “a gendered reading might begin to unravel many of the male-centred misinterpretations that have grown up around the novel ever since Baudelaire depicted as masculine all Emma's positive and active attributes”, Madame Bovary, (London: 1990), p. 172.

22. J. F. Hamilton has argued that “the apparent contradictions in Emma's character and behaviour” reflect “the salutary urge to unite the female and male aspects of her being”; see “Madame Bovary and the Myth of Androgyny”, University, of South Florida Language Quarterly, 19 (1981), p. 19. Two more recent considerations of the problematic relationship between masculine and feminine elements in Emma's behaviour are N. Schor's “For a restricted thematics. Writing, speech and difference inMadame Bovary”, in Breaking the Chain. Women, Theory and French Realist Fiction, (Columbia: 1985) and D. Kelly's “Gender and Representation” in Fictional Genders. Role and Representation in Nineteenth-Century French Narrative, (Nebraska: 1989). Both of these critics emphasise Flaubert's exploration of significant differences between male and female attitudes to language, a topic which this article has not examined.

23. See “J'ai toujours essayé de faire de toi un hermaphrodite sublime” (Correspondance, ii, 548) and “C' est que j'ai les deux sexes, peut-être” (Correspondance, (Paris: 1929), v, 268).

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition)

Williams, Tony. "Gender Stereotypes in Madame Bovary." Forum for Modern Language Studies 28.2 (Apr. 1992): 130-139. Rpt. in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism. Ed. Denise Evans. Vol. 66. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998. Literature Resource Center. Web. 13 Aug. 2014.

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