Character Analysis Charles Bovary


Charles is a dull, unimaginative country doctor. From the opening chapters, we are made aware that Charles must work very diligently at something that comes easily for others. He lacks the dashing imagination that characterizes his father, the elder Bovary. His constant struggle to achieve almost anything is a part of his essential nature. He has no natural talents and must work twice as hard as others in order to achieve the simplest results.

In his school, we saw that when he relaxes he gives himself over to aimless wanderings and ultimately fails his examinations. Furthermore, he is the type who can be easily controlled by a woman. First, his mother ruled his life completely for him, even arranging a marriage for him with a woman about twenty years older than he. Thus his first wife was able to rule him rather easily. But these women make it exceptionally easy for Emma to control Charles and to get her way in every matter.

Charles functions as a complete contrast to Emma. His plodding nature and his routine ardors and embraces suggest his insensitive nature. He is content with commonplace activities and is too dull to notice Emma's dissatisfaction. He assumes that Emma is as happy as he is, and he is incapable of detecting any subtle differences in their life. Whereas Emma burns to experience everything in life, Charles feels that with the birth of his daughter, he has now gone through the complete list of human experiences. His contentment with his life only makes life more unbearable for Emma.

Charles' only attribute is his devoted love for Emma. His every concern is directed toward her happiness and his love and devotion are completely unselfish. When Emma is sick, he leaves all else and devotes himself entirely to her recovery. He is capable of unselfish feelings whereas Emma is concerned only with herself.

Charles is the dull commonplace little man, the typical representative of the insensitive and unimaginative human being. He was intended by Flaubert to personify many of the most appalling aspects of provincial, middle-class society.