Portrayal of Charles Bovary in Madame Bovary

Published: 2021-09-10 07:45:09
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In this Chapter, the persona of Charles Bovary is introduced through the reader, starting from a scene where Charles arrives in the Boarding School, at the age of 12. •P. 15 : “ In the corner behind the door, only just visible, stood a country lad of fifteen, taller than any of us, with hair cut square on his forehead like a village chorister ; sensible looking and extremely ill at ease.
He had on a short green jacket with black buttons, which must have pinched him under the arms although he was not broad-shouldered, and which revealed at the cuffs a glimpse of red wrists that were used to going bare. ” From the very beginning, Charles is marginalized by Flaubert as a rural figure. This report shows the scene that unfolds itself at the introduction of Charles through the eyes of his future classmates. This portrayal has a very negative and sardonic tone. •P. 6 : “ The boy stammered out some unintelligible noise…This time, the new boy plucked up his courage, opened his mouth to an enormous width , and brought out at the top of his voice, as if he were hailing someone, the word Charbovari” This description depicts Charles’ painful inability to communicate. He does not manage to effectively communicate even the most superficial of all messages, one’s name, let alone that he could communicate more complicated aspects of a existance (assuming he could actually identify them).
This inability is also shown when he Charles proposes to Emma, later in the novel, where he misses the emotional intelligence to grasp the art of effective communication. •P. 17 – 18 : “ At evening prep, he took his cuffs from his desk, set out his little belongings and fuled his paper with care. We saw him working conscientiously, looking up every word in the dictionary, taking the utmost pains. ” This report exemplifies Charles’ diligent working, which is a direct result of his absolute lack of any specific talent.
It could be considered as irony used by Flaubert, a critique towards the labouring middle-class, limited by its own lack of talents. •P. 23 : “ Devoid of enthousiasm, he came naturally to absolve himself from all the good resolutions he had made. ” In this description, Flaubert furthermore degenerates any notion of self-awareness Charles might possess : his lack of an emotional spine makes Charles complacent, and makes him surrender to aimless wanderings, and ultimately fail his exams.
We can conclude that Flaubert makes use of this introductory chapter to depict Charles as an incapable, complacent being, that needs structure ( a strong hand, being his mother, and later Helene and Emma). 2. Chapter VII This Chapter mainly marks the moral and emotional detachment of Emma in her relationship with Charles. •P. 53-54 : “ Nevertheless, had Charles so wished, had he guessed, had his eyes once read her thoughts, it would instantly have delivered her heart of a rich load, as a single touch will bring the ripe fruit from falling from the tree.
But as their outward familiarity grew, she began to be inwardly detached, to hold herself more aloof from him. ” This descriptive comment marks , on one hand, Charles’ absolute inability to grasp Emma even in the slightest, despite his abundance of good intentions, and on the other hand, Emma’s gradual detachment. This portrayal is almost pathetic, as it does not show Charles as a persona with a strong will nor a strong character. •P. 53-54 : “ Charles’ conversation was as flat as a street pavement, on which everybody’s ideas trudged past , in their workaday dress, provoking no emotion, no laughter, no dreams. This is a very sardonic comment of Flaubert on Charles, and also on middle-class conversations. In general, Charles is very unilaterally depicted as a dull, typical provincial member of middle class. We could state that Flaubert does not really open a new register of portrayal concerning Charles. •P. 54 : “ She used to sketch. And it was a great sport for Charles to stand there, bolt upright, watching her as she bent over her drawing-block, half-closing her eyes to see her work better or rolling little bread-crumb pellets between finger and thumb. P. 5: “Possessing such a wife, Charles came to have an increased respect for himself. ”
These extracts display Charles’ almost childish devotion and adoration for Emma, but also his dullness, which does not even allow him to discover Emma’s downsides. •P. 55 : “He took off his frock-coat to eat his meal in comfort, and told her all the people he had met, the villages he had been to, … Then , well pleased with himself, he finished the onion stew, pared the rind from his cheese, munched an apple, emptied the decanter and took himself off to bed, where he lay down on his back and started snoring. The domesticity of this scene helps in portraying Charles as a character bound to routine and ambitiousless. •P. 56 : “By the moonlight in the garden, she used to recite to him all the love poetry she knew,… It left her as unmoved as before, neither did it appear to Charles more loving or more emotional. ” In this extract, Flaubert portrays Charles as a character for whom it’s impossible to have a higher feeling of love. Loving is almost a merely materialistic, superficial thing, and this form of indirect portraying only proves our image of Charles as a shallow, trivial person. 3. Chapter IX •P. 3 : “ Charles trotted across the country in rain and snow… But every evening, he came home to a blazing fire and a supper waiting…” Charles physical action radius in this extract is relatively large compared to Emma’s, but he keeps moving in dull, rural environments. This illustrates his utter provinciality. •P. 74 : “ He looked well and felt well, and his reputation was firmly established. ”
Charles’ complacency makes him feel as if he has achieved something, but the same complacency forces him not to ambition more. Again, Flaubert uses this particular part to criticize the absolute lack of ambition of middle-class people. P. 74 : “ Being scared of killing his clients, he in fact rarely prescribed anything but sedatives, with an occasional emetic, a foot-bath or leeches. ” Even though his firmly established reputation , he is and stays an incompetent doctor, and Charles is aware of that. 4. Conclusion We can conclude that there is not a real evolution in how Charles is described. His persona remains a means for Flaubert to critique middle-class society and it’s utter lack of ambition and capacities. Flaubert mainly uses description, report and occasionally comment, but never dialogue, to depict Charles.

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