Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Rouen (rew-AN). City in Normandy where Emma Bovary is educated in a convent school. The home of Gustave Flaubert in his youth, Rouen represents Emma’s first moment of happiness—one that she later regrets. After her first lover abandons her, she returns to Rouen to attend an opera that she hopes will distract her and be a source of healing. This visit to Rouen serves as a transition between the second and third parts of the novel. At the opera Emma again meets the young Léon Dupuis, whom she met in Tostes. The affair they conduct in Rouen effectively replaces the spectacle they have both come to see. However, Rouen proves to be no different for Emma than Tostes, as Léon, too, abandons her.
*Tostes (tahst). Town south of Rouen that proves to be an ideal place for Dr. Charles Bovary to set up his medical practice and live a married life with his first wife, Héloïse, who soon dies. Emma Rouault marries him—and becomes “Madame Bovary”—but finds life in Tostes to be boring. Her only moment of relief comes when she is invited to a ball at a nearby château that symbolizes her ideal. This interval of happiness only serves to emphasize the general tedium that Emma experiences in Tostes and the disappointment she feels in her married state. To make her happy, her husband leaves his medical practice in Tostes and goes to Yonville-l’Abbaye, which he hopes will become their promised land.
(The entire section is 603 words.)
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Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bloom, Harold, ed. Emma Bovary. New York: Chelsea House, 1994. Includes excerpts from reviews and articles (some contemporaneous with the novel), as well as ten essays that analyze the heroine in light of twentieth century and feminist perspectives and understanding. Extensive bibliography.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Gustave Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary.” New York: Chelsea House, 1988. An excellent and balanced collection of some of the best and most provocative essays published in the last third of the twentieth century. Topics range from thematic to linguistic and from deconstructionist to psychoanalytical.
(The entire section is 211 words.)