Study Help Essay Questions


1. Discuss the attitude of Flaubert towards the middle-class society he is describing. Use illustrations from the novel to support your view.

2. Explain the use of contrast and irony in Madame Bovary.

3. Compare the characterizations of Homais and Bournisien. What do they each represent? What is Flaubert's reaction to them? Are they fairly portrayed?

4. In what ways is Madame Bovary a realistic novel? What is "realism," in a literary sense?

5. Analyze the personality of Emma Bovary. How is she responsible for her own downfall? How do the nature of provincial society and the people around her make her unhappiness inevitable?

6. Compare Emma's relationships with Charles, Rodolphe, and Leon in terms of her attitudes and needs, the types of men they are, and the stage of her life during which she meets them.

7. Discuss the use of symbolism in Madame Bovary, giving examples from the text.

8. Briefly describe Flaubert's career as a writer and his place in the history of literature.

9. Analyze the personality of Charles Bovary. Why did Emma marry him? Does he contribute to her downfall? Is he a sympathetic character?

10. Identify the following characters: Lagardy, Lariviere, Justin, Felicite, Canivet, Hippolyte, Roualt.

11. Discuss the fantasies that motivate Emma and cause her unhappiness. In what way are they unrealistic? What do they indicate about her personality? Do the kinds of problems that Emma suffered from still exist today, and if so, what media cater to the desires of people like her?

12. Analyze the structure of Madame Bovary as a novel, pointing out the major scenes, the relationships between incidents and characters, the use of theatrical techniques, and the overall dramatic form.