What are the factors that are the cause for the tragedy of Emma Bovary in the novel "Madame Bovary"?

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brendawm | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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There are many factors that cause the tragedy of Emma Bovary in the novel "Madame Bovary."  Not the least of these is her desire for wealth, romance, and social status that are beyond her reach because she is married to a middle-class doctor.  Her desire for more, more, more leads her to go to extreme measures to obtain what she wants in life; therefore, the primary factors in the down fall of Emma Bovary would have to be greed and the desire to live above her means.  Other factors leading to Emma’s tragedy include borrowing money to pay for her expensive tastes, taking lovers to fill the loveless void in her life, and then failing, or lacking the ability to repay what she owes.
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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

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The first step is that Emma becomes disillusioned with her life, and bored at what she sees as monotony. This is her essential problem in life, she is always reaching for some ideal which does not exist.

Next, she falls in love with Leon but because she is married, does not allow herself to admit or act on her feelings.

Later, she begins an affair with Boulanger, but people in the town start to suspect her infidelity.

Then, Charles performs an operation that he believes will make him a famous doctor, but instead he makes a mistake, and Emma is humiliated by his "mediocrity".

Finally she decided to run away with Boulanger to Italy, but on the night they are to leave, he has second thoughts and abandons her. As a result, Emma falls into a deep depression and her health suffers.

In the end, she rekindles her relationship with Leon and spends all of her money supporting the affair. Unable to pay her bills, she turns to prostitution but is rebuffed by Boulanger. She then takes arsenic and dies a very painful death.


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