1. First of all, what did you think about Part Two?
‘Madame Bovary, once she was in the kitchen, made for the fireplace. With the tips of her fingers, she took hold of her dress at the knee, and, lifting it just to her ankle, held out to the fire, above the leg of mutton on the spit, a foot clad in a small black boot. The flames lit every inch of her, a harsh brilliance penetrating the weave of her dress, the fine pores of her white skin and even her eyelids that she blinked repeatedly’.
Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert, Pg.74
I absolutely adored Part II of Madame Bovary. Charles and Emma have left their tiny provincial life in Tostes behind and set out on a new adventure in Yonville-l’Abbaye. Not only is this move significant in terms of a new beginning but it is also the point where Emma traverses the boundary between inaction and action – she attempts to take her happiness into her own hands with devastating consequences. I also enjoyed the switch to the direct address of ‘you’ at the opening of Part II: ‘You leave the main road at La Boissière and you carry on along the slope as far as the top of the Côte des Leux, where you can see the whole valley’ (pg.65). It is almost as if Flaubert is inviting us to join in and witness the events that are about to unfold. We become the passive audience to the inevitable climax of Emma’s frustrations.
However, I do continue to feel sorry for Emma. As the above quote highlights, she is constantly objectified by the men around her. Even Léon, whom we meet when Charles and Emma first arrive in Yonville, cannot help but view her in these terms, despite their burgeoning platonic friendship. It is not a coincidence that Emma’s leg and a leg of mutton appear next to each other in the same sentence. Flaubert equates this desire for Emma as a hunger, which is almost violent in its portrayal. This can be seen even more when we come across the character of Rodolphe – a typical rake-like figure, a womaniser.