Madame Bovary Summary

In the field of Universal Literature, the title of Madame Bovary is known as the most famous novel by the French writer Gustave Flaubert, which was first published in 1856, when it was edited by deliveries in La Revue de Paría, a magazine that brought it to light between October 1 and December 15.Later, in 1857, it was published for the first time as a complete work, thanks to the editorial work of the house Michel Lévy Fr.res.

Transcendence of Madame Bovary

With regard to this novel’s assessment of the literary world, most critics often agree when they point to Madame Bovary as the masterpiece of its author. In this way, writers, intellectuals and specialists of all ages praise the drama woven by Flaubert about her protagonist Emma, a woman who lives the tragedy of being without salvation in the midst of what her mind imagines, and what reality condemns.

On the other hand, some of the most important writers of the twentieth century, such as Marcel Proust or Milan Kundera, or even the theorist Nabokob placed the emphasis on the great grammatical handling that Flaubert achieved with the writing of Madame Bovary, recognizing this work the merit of having ceased to belittle prose, in favor of poetry, and from now on it was accepted that with the first one works of equal aesthetic value could be knitted, which also spoke to the human soul about beauty.

As for her position within the History of Universal Literature, Madame Bovary is considered a fundamental piece of Realism, even though some critics consider it close to other genres, such as the magic novel, the epic novel, or one’s own naturalist novel.

However, focusing only on Realism, Madame Bovary is seen as a faithful reflection of the life of Parisian society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Likewise, as some critics have pointed out, Madame Bovary has positioned herself as a benchmark for the realists, and even for the Philosophy itself.

Summary of Madame Bovary

As some of her critics have described, Madame Bovary is a realistic drama, built by Flaubert in three acts, that are enough for her to build the faithful portrait of a society, the transitional France between the nineteenth and twentieth century, where the lack of purpose or ob personal jesuits, the monotonous life of the bourgeoisie and ambition for luxuries, can destroy life and leave the most vulnerable adrift.

Consequently, even though it can be said that Madame Bovary’s story is basically Emma’s tragedy for having a life that does not correspond to her fantasies, and that subjects her to a dangerous tedium, where she never manages to obtain the love and luxuries with which she dreams , it is best, when addressing a summary of this work, to pause for a moment in each of the three parts written by Flaubert, as shown below:

Part One

In these early passages of the novel, the narrator recounts how Charles Bovary meets his first wife, a widow, with which he marries, at the request of his mother. In this way, the recent medical graduate begins his marital life in Tostes. However, fate wants that union to last short, causing Charles Bovary to envy soon.

However, this young man will not spend much time alone, since a little before the death of his first wife, his work has taken him to a farm, where he has met the beautiful Emma, of whom he falls in love. Free from his first matromonial engagement, Charles Bovary manages to arrange a new wedding with Emma’s father. That’s how Emma becomes Madame Bovary.

However, the reality that Emma begins to live does not correspond to her dreams and fantasies, which are generally inspired by the romantic novels that this young woman has read during her short life. Besides, Emma can’t access the luxuries she dreamed of either. This gives the young woman a great sense of disenchantment, which even makes her sick.

Seeking his wife to recover, Charles Bovary decides that it would be best to move to Rouen, Yonville, in order to look for new airs, a change that soon proves that it has not actually been so deep, since the couple remains in the maze of monotony.

Part Two

This second part of Madame Bovary begins with the arrival in the world of little Berthe, who was born in Yonville. Although her first daughter has been born, this event does not seem to excite or especially attract Emma, who even delegates her daughter’s care to others, without ever actually exercising her motherhood.

Also, during this part of the work, other characters are presented: the neighbors of the Bovary, of which the Bovary stands out especially Léon Dupuis, with whom Emma makes immediate connection, when she discovers that they have the same tastes for Literature. Between them then begins a kind of impossible love, from which the young Dupuis decides to flee, leaving for Rouen, and leaving Emma again summity in a disorienting tedium.

However, during this stage not only Emma’s boredom grows, but also her frustration at not being able to really have the life of luxuries she has always wanted. Seeking access to it, he poses an interest in Rodolphe Boulanger, with whom he establishes an extramarital relationship. For the first time, Emma feels she has passion and luxuries.

However, her pleasure is based on nothing, for Boulanger does not really love her, and the excesses they have had are thanks to the credits that Madame Bovary has contracted with Mr. Lhereux, leaving her family in a dangerous situation.

Towards the end of this part of the story, Boulanger abandons Emma just after the two have decided to flee together, leaving Madame Bovary in great disappointment, which again leads her to fall ill.

Her husband then increases the debt to Mr. Lhereux, in order to care for his wife. Trying to cheer her up, Charles Bovary takes Emma to the opera, unsuspecting that this is actually where fate will unite his wife again with Léon Dupuis.


The meeting of Madame Bovary and Léon Dupuis this time will lead to a story of passion. Both become lovers, and Emma returns to happiness, as well as to the credits with Mr. Lhereux, with whom she continues to face, only to have the life of luxuries she has always desired.

Towards the end of the story, Emma suffers a further abandonment by one of her lovers, leading her to the drastic decision to want to take her own life. After the heavy blow that resulted in Emma’s suicide, Charles Bovary must also go through the seizure of his house, a direct consequence of the unconscious debts his wife has incurred. Likewise, stirring among the things of this finds the letter of one of his lovers, which leads him to a deep disappointment, which ends up ending his life as well.

In this way, the sad end of her parents ends up harming little Berthe, who has been left alone in the world, and in the face of the inability of her grandparents to raise her, she is sent to a distant aunt, without much information about her fate.

Picture: portrait of Gustave Flaubert, author of Madame Bovary / Source:

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Bibliography ► (September 30, 2019). Madame Bovary Summary. Bogotá: E-Cultura Group. Recovered from