Madame Bovary

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The elder Madame Bovary Character Analysis

Charles’s mother, a nervous, demanding woman exhausted by years of unhappy marriage. She craves Charles’s affection, and resents sharing it with his wife. She often quarrels with Emma. Charles wants to please both women, and finds it very difficult to take sides. She abandons Charles after Emma’s death, when he is at his most helpless, because of a meaningless fight.

The elder Madame Bovary Quotes in Madame Bovary

The Madame Bovary quotes below are all either spoken by The elder Madame Bovary or refer to The elder Madame Bovary . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Madame Bovary published in 2002.
Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

The universe, for him, did not extend beyond the silken round of her skirts.

Related Characters: Charles Bovary, The elder Madame Bovary
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

The beginning of Charles' marriage to Emma is marked by the former's utter devotion and infatuation. Flaubert details the doctor's every tender feeling towards Emma over the course of the day: in sum, the whole of his attention is directed at Emma, while already she only feels lukewarm towards him.

The gulf between the husband and wife is already evident to the reader; while Charles cannot conceive of a world beyond Emma's "skirts," she does not feel an equivalent love. Emma dreams of ineffable, vague romances — her universe is the stuff of novels—but reality, even a dull one, satisfies the much more practical Charles.

Yet despite Emma's fanciful nature, Flaubert reminds readers that she belongs fully to her material and financial circumstances. Emma worries about her clothing and jewelry throughout the book, and even Charles’ love is also, in part, a love for her “silken” clothing, her aesthetic sensibilities and expensive taste.


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