The Kugelmass Episode

by Woody Allen

Start Free Trial

Student Question

What elements of Kugelmass's conversation with Emma in Yonville reflect his twentieth-century orientation?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

I think that Allen is really skilled in bringing out how Emma's orientation is akin to a 20th Century one that Kugelmass himself illuminates.  Kuglemass yearns to go back to Yonville to meet Bovary.  Yet, when he does meet her, he speaks not of being with her in Yonville and committing himself to her, but rather of life in New York.  In Yonville, Kugelmass represents a 20th Century orientation of alienation in that he is driven to be with someone or something other than where he is.  It is a constant state of dissatisfaction in the modern setting that Emma herself exhibits.  Hence, when their conversation results in she recognizing her very same traits in him, it becomes an instantaneous match between them as both embody the same ennui with with where they are.  The desire to escape from what is into a condition tense of what can be is critical to both of them.  It is something that he brings out with his discussion of modern New York, as opposed to valuing the time he has with her at that moment.  She understands this as she embodies this throughout Flaubert's work, helping to underscore both Flaubert's genius and Allen's own understanding of how Emma is more modern than one might initially think.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial