Repercussions of weak relationships in Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and Therese Raquin by Emile Zola.

Essay by nathanmleeHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2004

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In a modern society where over 50% of marriages result in divorce, the concept of true love has dissipated into a mere illusion that few are able to obtain, let alone maintain. This situation was similarly seen in the late 1800's, when people began to realize the detrimental effects of hasty and unstable marriages. Authors Gustave Flaubert of Madame Bovary and Emile Zola of Therese Raquin portray this concept through the irresponsible actions and dangerous repercussions resulting from weak and unsuccessful relationships and marriages.

The two novels follow the central idea of a poorly constructed marriage that eventually collapses because of a lack of true love between the partners. It is assumed that marriage entails the consent of the partners who have mutual affection for each other. However, in both of the novels, the characters are quickly coerced into marriage because of obligation or financial reasons and lack a true sense of love.

In Madame Bovary, the approval of marriage is not given by Emma, the protagonist, herself, but rather, by her father. Emma and Charles have little affection for each other, as the time that they spend together is compressed by Charles's short periodic visits to her father. Nevertheless, the father takes it upon himself to marry his daughter off to a person who is "reputed to be of steady character, thrifty and well educated." (46) Thus, Emma's opinions toward Charles's proposal are completely disregarded and unconsidered. This one-sided and hasty relationship is also brought on by Charles's instantaneous rebound from his previous marriage. Charles, free from the constraints and limitations of his former wife, quickly becomes attracted to Emma, as seen in, "But Emma's face kept coming back before his eyes," (45) His attraction to her is what precipitates the marriage proposal, rather than true love. This...