Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Comparison between the presentation of class: Tess X Bovary

Class in Madame Bovary is approached in a very different manner than in Tess of D’Urbervilles. From the start it can be seen that for Emma Bovary having a high position in social hierarchy was of utmost importance, while Tess couldn’t care less about it and had no problem living and working in a farm. This also relates to the conflicting personalities of Emma, who is a gold-digging, material woman, and Tess, who is presented as virtuous and pure, who’s only vice seems to be loving Angel.

In Madame Bovary, Emma does all sorts of schemes and machinations in order to try and rise in social position. In the beginning she marries a doctor, and thinks she might rise in position with him. When she sees that is not going to happen it is clear that her ties with Charles are purely for interest as she is unable to love him. Emma then tries to rise in social position by engaging in an affair with Rodolphe, a noble. Although they have an affair she also perceives that the romance won’t be enough to make him marry her and thus rise in position. Emma then tries a different approach by trying to urge his husband to improve their life, Charles is lazy and unmotivated and thus fails to do so. As these failures occur, Emma tries at least to act as if she were higher up in social hierarchy and starts spending a lot of money, which makes her commit suicide in the end.

In Tess, social class is presented from a very different perspective than that of Madame Bovary. Although Thomas Hardy makes this one of the main issues and present throughout most, or even the whole story, differently than Emma, the main character, Tess, does not desire or try to achieve a higher position in social class, in fact she shuns that idea from the beginning by affirming that her mother, who was also beautiful was unable to marry someone nobler and thus so will she. The pursuit for a higher social position is made not by the main character but instead by John of D’Urbervilles, Tess’ father, and even when Alec gives Tess the opportunity to rise in class she turns it down.

There is also a difference in how people from higher classes are portrayed in both novels. While Madame Bovary shows the more glamorous side of the nobility and higher classes, with its dances, theaters and goods such as Algerian scarves. Tess of D’Urbervilles shows the wicked part of the higher classes, examples of this is Tess’ rape and how Alec’s mother treated her subjects and animals.

Comparison between the presentation of women: Tess X Bovary

While comparing Madame Bovary and Tess of D’Urbervilles it is possible to see that in both novels the female character, which happens to be the protagonist in both, seems to be cursed or/and has fate present in most of the story, ultimately a bad end result. In Tess of D’Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy presents the idea of a cursed woman, who although pure in heart and soul, is made corrupt in the eyes of men and ends up dying. During the novel Tess frequently enquires herself of her fate and is somewhat conscientious that she is doomed from the beginning. Madame Bovary on the other hand, has the female character bring fate upon herself, with all her desires and needs, Emma ends up killing herself and only realizes her doom towards the end of the novel.

Another major difference seen between both novels is how the woman is portrayed. As mentioned before, Tess was an example of purity, she had many virtues and almost no flaws, she devoted herself entirely to Angel and loved him very much. Emma Bovary is somewhat Tess’ foil. She does not love Charles, and is a long way from being pure, she cheats on her husband frequently and is a compulsive buyer, ultimately indebting herself and her husband. Another example of the contrasting character between both of them is that Tess did not care for social status while that was one of Emma’s major concerns, D’Urbervilles was in fact happy of living in the farm while Emma only thought of getting to a higher position in the social ladder. Although both have many differences they have some similar characteristics. The two f them seem to have romantic ideals and both live in a rural area.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Bovary vs. Tess Women/ Class

The way that both authors portray women in these two novels are somewhat similar, however on the other hand they happen in a different perspective. Tess seems to be doomed for life, having her fate already set. Emma, on the other hand, sets up her fate. Tess has moral integrity, which is her main internal conflict in the novel; if she helps her family with money when they most needed it, or if she kept her moral integrity because of her rape. Emma marry Charles because of her fanticism of romantic novels, however she is the one that contributes most to her downfall. She makes her debt larger, and gets involved with many affairs.

Yet, both of them (Tess and Emma) seem to be born in a different era. They are both independent. Looking for an upgrade in society, Emma makes alone the decision of having affairs and doing everything in order to fulfill her dream. Together, Tess is the only independent member of her family. She is the one who is in charge of everything. Tess does everything possible to take her family out of the misery and help them both.

In both novels, Flaubert and Hardy makes use of these characters in order to show discontemptment. Flaubert uses Emma to criticize the social classes, but also because he wanted to show what was happening in that time, and what would probably happen years later. Hardy, also portrays Tess as a woman that was born in wrong era, because she had personnality, she is independent, which are the characteristics that women now-a-days have. And also Flaubert in one sense was correct, because a considerable portion of women betray their husbands and gets huge amount of debts, te only difference is that men now-a-days are not that stupid and figure it out.

Class: The social class in these books are not the same. Tess and her family belong to the working class. They depend on their labor to have food on the table. The greatest problem that they encounter in the book is when their horse dies, because Tess rapidly notices that their ability to produce was much reduced, and this meant no money. Emma on the other hand was member of the middle class, which is so criticized by Flaubert. She is consistently trying to have an upgrade, and does everything in order to achieve this, even her own death.

It seems that both books kind of complement each other because Flaubert barely give his opinion towards the lower class, so the reader is not able to really identify his thoughts on it. Hardy also focuses on a lower class family, which we can easily understand how hard it was to belong to a lower class. Besides this, both women in their way are corrupted, and both of them die in a similar type of way, where there downfall are much because of them, surrendering themselves to death.

Madame Bovary vs. Tess of d'Urbervilles

To begin with, Madame Bovary and Tess of d’Urbervilles present two different types of heroines. Emma is seen as selfish yet a heroine because she broke away from the status quo of what it meant to be a woman of her time and goes after what she wants. While Tess is seen as a self-less being who is a heroine because she sacrifices herself for the greater good. However, in both the themes of class and women are approached.

In both novels it is apparent that the characters are aspiring to be something more than they are, they are wanting to progress in society. In Madame Bovary, Emma so desperately wants to be a part of the upper class, unsatisfied with her position in the middle class. Others such as Homais want a higher status in society as well. Then Tess of d’Urbervilles, Tess’s parents are primarily concerned with getting out of their state of wretchedness and being able to sustain their family. Two characters among the books that are the most similar are Rodolphe an Alec. Both are wealthy men who aspire and chase after pursuits. It appears as though they have an easy way out of things because of their social status so they aren’t concerned with being reckless. Rodolphe pursues Emma out of sheer lust and Alec does the same with Tess.

However a difference is in the fact that class is approached and looked at on other levels as well. In Madame Bovary, the pursuit of attaining a higher social status is what drives Emma, yet in Tess of d’Urbervilles, Angel seems content with his class (in that he doesn’t seem to have any aspirations to achieve a higher status) and prefers to be a farmer rather than a clergy man. Another difference is the way the upper class is viewed. Emma believes the upper class to be elegant and bliss, filled with people who have manners and live happy lives. On the other hand, Angel views the upper class as corrupted and having no morals. He seems them as dishonest, and rather associate with those of humbled backgrounds. While Emma wants to be in the wealthy class where titles are important and what make you who you are, while Angel prefers to be in the middle class, working class where it’s what you do that makes you who you are.

When it comes to women, in both novels, women are looked at as of a lower position than men. In Madame Bovary, women are seen as powerless and incapable and in Tess of d’Urbervilles, the theme seems to be the same, with men dominating over women. Both Emma and the milkmaids are similar in that when they lose the man they want, their lives fall apart. Emma goes into depression while Marian becomes a drunk and Retty tries to commit suicide. Also, Emma is powerless in the fact that she isn’t able to fully break free and live life independently; something always pulls her back---her reliance upon Charles for money.I am pretty sure that if she had her own money, she would have left Charles yet because he was her source of income, she always had to go back to him. And then for Tess, she is powerless as well in the sense that men screw up her life. First Alec rapes her and emotionally manipulates her for a while, sends her home ruined and then Angel is leaves her and she has no say in the matter.

Their powerlessness is their downfall. Although Tess finally grows some backbone in the end when she writes the letter to Angel about him acting unjustly towards her, it's too late to change the course of fate. And then I think Emma is unsuccessful because she tries to counter-act men’s dominance through manipulation.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The different guises of Emma Bovary

In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary it is possible to see the various manners in which women, especially the main character, Emma, are treated by different men and also the may in which they are portrayed. From the beginning of the novel almost every man has a different idea of Emma.

Charles thinks of her as a virtuous, caring and loving wife but does not seem to care about her as much as to make her wishes such as having a honeymoon in the alps come true, and finds out about her unfaithfulness only at the end.

Rodolphe portrays Emma differently, caused by his experienced nature, from the beginning of his relationship with Emma his image of her is of yet another romantic conquest, and has an affair with her for as long as his interest in her continues.

Leon is somewhat of a foil to Rodolphe. Emma and Leon both shares view of an idealistic romance and seem to love each other very much, even though he begins to think of her as annoying in the last couple of times they meet. He also seems to have no problem in moving on after she dies and marries soon.

Emma’s relationship with Lhereux portrays an Emma that is foolish and easily trick. Her desires are passed on as vain and she eventually leads her family into bankruptcy.

Considering a wider view of the novel it seems as if Emma was as woman from later centuries to come trapped in the 1800s. She forces herself to play the role of caring and virtuous wife but meanwhile is also very independent and goes after for what she desires.

Class on Madame Bovary

In Madam Bovary there are open criticisms by Flaubert from the beginning of the novel towards class, especially the middle class, or bourgeoisie, the Bovary’s belonged to. At that period, the bourgeoisie was beginning to experience an exponential growth in their wealth and their power, feeling as if they were nobles. This is Emma Bovary’s ultimate desire and what eventually leads to the demise of the Bovary’s, so consequently this means that class is the reason for the fall of the Bovary’s.

On Madame Bovary, the class of characters may be distinguished various times by what he or she eats. In the novel the refinement of the characters are shown on what and how each character yet, taking as an example Charles sloppy manners if compared to the refined manners at the guests at the ball.

Flaubert further criticizes the middle class when adding the character of Homais, an obnoxious doctor, who thinks knows everything there is to know. His unlikable personality shuns the readers away from the middle class. Lhereux can also be considered part of a criticism to the middle class if taken into account that the bourgeoisie, which formed most of the middle class, were in most part merchants, and Lhereux treacherous, scheming and villainous nature is one another example of Flaubert’s criticism to class.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Portrayal of Class

All throughout the novel, the importance of class is strung from beginning to end. When Emma marries Charles and then attends the ball, she begins to crave the life of the wealthy class. Emma’s innocent attempts at belonging to the wealthier class are first shown through her change in manners, as she starts to read all about the fashion, gestures, etc. of Paris and other elegant places. She even “forbade [her maid] to wear cotton bonnets, taught her it was necessary to address people in the third person, to bring a glass of water on a saucer…she wanted to make her into a lady’s maid” (p. 76). She impresses Charles with her fancy manner and daydreams about being rich and it is then that she begins to buy expensive things. Emma feels as if she belongs to that upper class, however it is apparent that she really isn’t when it is mentioned how Charles is ignorant to her “elegant touches” (p. 77).

Not only does Emma desire a higher position in society, but others do as well. Everyone is striving for something more, a better, more prosperous life. Monsieur Homais is selfish and goes into long dialogues about things he does not know about. He flatters everyone in order to be in good opinion, and in the end he ends up getting an award of recognition. Also when Charles and Emma first move to Yonville, Leon is delighted that he has a chance to speak with “a lady” (p. 99). He looks at Emma as an elegant woman. Monsieur Lheureux, the merchant, is constantly using the idea of upper class to get Emma to buy expensive products that he knows she can’t afford. Class also comes up when Emma has the affair with Rodolphe; she is so enamored by his manners and his upper class lifestyle; this makes her even more in love with him because with Rodolphe as her lover its as if she feels a step closer to the upper class society.

Emma’s pursuit for a wealthier lifestyle continues and is even amplified. She begins to make absurd purchases, signing notes and building up debt. When Emma is trying to find the money in order to salvage her reputation, she ends up resulting to promiscuity and attempts to seduce men into giving her the money. For Leon, this worked---as he did go out to try to borrow money. Yet for upper class men such as the Legion of Honor, who instead of responding to her as others did, he “suddenly drew back quite far as if he had caught sight of a snake and shouted: ‘Madame, what’s got into you?’” (p. 286), clearly showing the behavioral difference of the two classes. And in the end her pursuit of a wealthy lifestyle is what kills her and her husband, and makes life miserable for her daughter. The thought of having everything taken away and facing responsibility for her attempt at living a high lifestyle drives her to poison herself. Her suicide leads her husband to insanity and robs her daughter of any chance of having a happy life.