The Corruption of Literature: "Madame Bovary" by Gustave Flaubert [Research Paper]

Essay by alamode October 2006

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Literature is often the result of fantasies and dreams. Consequently, many times in literature the truth is fabricated and stories are made to please the audience rather than to convey an accurate message. The modern public's infatuation with the lives of celebrities is a contemporary example of this concept as it eventually leads many people into debt and unhappiness with their own lifestyles. Similarly, in the novel "Madame Bovary" written by Gustave Flaubert, the author explores the idea that the deceitfulness of literature in France may have devastating effects on people. Flaubert's tone and portrayal of characters in "Madame Bovary" illustrates how the corruption of literature in French society causes inconceivable dreams and eventual disillusionment among the people.

The critical tone with which Flaubert describes the effects French literature emphasizes its demeaning influence on Emma Bovary. The literature misleads Emma, at first founding her initial obsession, and later causing unreasonable dreams as well as the eventual dissolution of her life.

The validity of literature is questionable and deceives Emma by abusing her trust. Critic William C. Vanderwolk writes of how Emma relies wholly on believing that her novels are accurate in nature and how in her "utter reliance on the validity of literature, she loses herself in the illusions of metaphor" (97). Vanderwolk talks of her "utter reliance," to demonstrate that Emma is completely devoted to her books and does not question their legitimacy at all. This corruption of literature not only misguides Emma but proves to be dangerous as well. The "dangers of reading the corrupting influence of literature" are illustrated by Flaubert through the "expression of Emma's imaginary existence" (Ginsburg 132). Emma's existence seems to live partially in the world of her books and is not interested in reality. The dramatic world of her books infatuates Emma, and...