Choose an episode from a novel/play written in the 19th century. Contrast the views of a 21st century reader with those of a contemporary reader.Focus on specific assumptions that the author makes,...

Choose an episode from a novel/play written in the 19th century. Contrast the views of a 21st century reader with those of a contemporary reader.

Focus on specific assumptions that the author makes, ones that would not make it in this century.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would take Flaubert's characterization of Emma in "Madame Bovary."  I think that Flaubert would come under criticism if he rendered Emma in the same manner with today's understanding.  He came under fire for many elements in his depiction of Emma, but I think that he would be able to open an interesting dialogue with the voices of feminism.  Certainly, Flaubert would be able to advocate his argument that he is not locking Emma into a role of despair and victimization, but rather suggesting that the notion of dreams that are not followed with some semblance of realism within them can be fairly self destructive.  Feminist thinkers might critique the fact that Emma is consistently driven by the love of a man, or the perceived love of a man who can "take care of her."  Flaubert might respond with the idea that it is precisely this condition that necessitates critique.  I don't think that the work would be directly be rejected, but I believe the discussion that ensues with a modern conception of Emma as opposed to what is given would be a very interesting discussion.