Just like the sun’s flamboyant presence in the horizon, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary , stand out in Victorian literature due to their ability to tackle controversial themes as well as social issues that affected the people at the time, some of which were regarded to be controversial .Elizabeth and Emma, Both are from moderate homes, are two young ladies from different social backgrounds in pursuit of happiness. Pride and prejudice depicts a culture in which marriage was at the peak of every young lady’s mind by the age of at least 18 years old. This is quite similar in Madame Bovary where we see Emma’s hastily marries a man she barely knows at quite a young age.
The cultures are similar in that they both perceive marriage as an activity that would be ticked off a “to do list of life” at a specific point in one’s life. However the protagonists in these books have a-typical perceptions of this mainstream ideology, and they don’t tackle their desires for love in the same way. Elizabeth’s pursuit is solely concerned with finding One in whom she could fall in love regardless of other people’s perception or the person’s economic status. However, this is quite the opposite for Madame Bovary as she confuses her desire for love with her crave for wealth and a lavish life of luxury. She is naïve due to her upbringing which saw her in a convent. However, she is misled by her expectation and shallow emotion toward Charles, wo thought of Emma as the finest jewel on a bling like him.
Both ladies fight against their vices so as to achieve what they are in search for. Emma is challenged by various vices that crop up as a result of circumstances encountered during the course of the story such as pride and greed. Elizabeth’s pride is based on the trust she has in her senses and disregard to anyone else’s perceptions. However Emma’s pride is based on her material possessions, something that Elizabeth is least concerned about. This factor may have contributed to Elizabeth’s success in her pursuit of love. Attempted juxtaposition of Emma’s desire for luxury as well as her goal of achieving love led to her confusion and therefore led her into making decisions that she would later regret.
Elizabeth was following the footsteps of Henry David Thoreau in terms of her atypical behavior. In “Excerpt from Walden” Henry expresses his abhorrence of the way people live their lives in some sort of routine with specific rules under which they must live, something we see both Emma and Elizabeth go against. However, Emma’s behavior could be related to advice a character in “picture of Dorian gray” written by Oscar Wilde, Harry, often gave to, a naïve Dorian. He often called for one to be free and live beyond the boundaries. Emma did just that during the course of her infidelities with Rodolphe and Leon respectively where, like bread on toast, she melts into their arms. The books highlight social conflict as in the ideologies of the people at the time starting to stray from the usual rigid and mainstream ideologies. They, like a civil rights movement, raised voices and like a key, opened people’s way of thinking and widened their perceptions. I think they highlight the impact and power of literature as they opened the public’s way of thinking as well as brought a form of realism and awareness of issues that were faced by people at the time in their everyday lives.
Pride and prejudice and Madame Bovary achieved a lot in terms of different aspects such as accentuating culture, social issues that used to and still challenge people as well as the basic appreciation of these books as great works in the art of literature. This was achieved by use of imagery, irony, emphatic themes and motifs, as well as other literary tools and techniques.
Flaubert and Austen eloquently as well as meticulously describe scenarios bringing about an illusion in the reader’s mind of the present scene being read as well as a better understanding of the story and flow of the book. This makes Madame Bovary and Pride and prejudice eye catching for both those who do and those who don’t enjoy reading as one’s reading experience could be compared to watching a 3D movie in a cinema.
Perhaps the most intriguing technique used In Madame Bovary that is highly rare in literature as it is used in film making is the juxtaposition of scenes and thoughts of the characters in the book. A good example of the juxtaposition of scenes is during the agricultural fair in Yonville square when Rodolphe confesses his love for Emma (or so he thought) and the speeches that were taking place in Yonville square. This technique does not only raise interest but also makes the read more dramatic raising the reader’s adrenaline and enthusiasm motivating him/her to keep reading.
However, Irony was among the most striking and flamboyant tools as used by Jane Austen. Not only does it create humor but it also gives one an insight on the characters’ behaviors for example Mr. Bennet who seldom participated in the on goings in the book.
Flaubert often uses similes which are helpful in different prospects. The first being, the book is more interesting as the reader does not receive information in only black and white but lets the reader take control of their experince(by this I mean information is not passed onto the reader in a straight forward way but lets the reader’s experience be more adventurous which raises interest). This boosts the reader’s morale as the book is not monotonous. The other being the reader can relate to the comparisons in the similes so as to understand the context or the author’s original perception (as meant by the author) which limits the chances of one’s imagination from straying off too far therefore avoiding destructions in itself (meaning the book). An example would be when Flaubert summarizes a blend of facts by writing, “her will, like the veil tied to her hat with a cord”, quivers with every wind”, this brings us to the third prospect which is, just like irony, similes also allow the author to emote a lot In a short way which prevents monotony as the reader is engaged in thought while the reading the work. In the above quote, Flaubert lets the reader know what Emma is wearing without primarily aiming at doing so he also tries to let the reader quantify the extent to which her will “quivers” by relating it to the movement of her veil. The combination of these facts makes one’s read more interesting as the book is fulfilling.
However, Austen uses a different approach too; she uses irony which surely reveals a lot out of less. The word irony comes from the Latin word” ironia” which means feigned ignorance. Among the different literary tools used in pride and prejudice, irony stands out as Jane Austen uses it to indulge her readers into a humorous read as well as give them a glimpse of how absurd the conventional Victorian life is. Just like a shell on a turtle, she uses irony as shields to ambiguously emote her analysis of the events around her in order to show the absurdity in rituals of the affluent. She humorously exaggerates the shallowness and materialistic nature of this society thus being shown in the way Mr. Collins literally worships the ground on which lady Catherine walks or another being the main stream ideology of marriage at the time that marriage was simply under the basis of affluence and protection despite the later consequences. One’s read becomes like driving under foggy conditions as the road to one’s destination i.e the idea is ambiguous and vague therefore engaging the reader into deep thought which is very fulfilling for close readers.
Charlotte, like a gazelle, is clenched by the unforgiving claws of marriage. Austen clearly depicts her unhappy life with Collins due to her marriage for economic security rather than for love. Irony allowed Austen to obscurely express her dismay over mainstream ideologies at the time such as the above, of which would bring serious repercussions to those who condemned them. The most basic and first example of irony in pride and prejudice is in the first sentence of the novel which reads “it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife”, a woman is not greatly in need of a wealthy man nearly so much as a man with a great fortune needs a wife. This encapsulates the ambitions of characters such as Mrs. Bennet whose sole ambition is to marry off her daughters, one that receives little help from her husband whose tolerant and witty cynicism cannot go undetected.
Austen also uses irony to depict Mr. Bennet’s character by using phrases such as “you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley might like you”, to shut up Mrs. Bennet due to her constant wining over her attempts to find a match for their daughters Elizabeth and Jane. This gives the reader an insight on how fed up he is of his wife as well as how little he loves her. Another is when he refers to Wickham “perhaps his favorite son in law”. Considering the fact that Wickham had an elopement with his daughter, it would be rather unusual for him to say so.
Another example of irony is in chapter 20 after Mr. Collins proposes to Mr. Elizabeth. Mrs. Bennet being her usual self, pesters Elizabeth for having refused Mr. Collin’s marriage proposal and threatening to never speak to the latter. Mr. Bennet then says the following on the matter, “An unhappy alternative is before you, Elizabeth. From this day you must be a stranger to one of your parents. — Your mother will never see you again if you do not marry Mr. Collins, and I will never see you again if you do.” This gives an insight as well as accentuates Mr. Bennet’s character and perception as he is very timid. It also shows how different Mr. and Mrs. Bennet are bringing up surprise on how they ever got married to each other considering the fact that they can’t stand each other. It also justifies Mr. Bennet’s support of his Daughters pursuit of a man of whom she loves rather than one of great affluence as he reflects on the consequences of his unhappy marriage.
Jane Austen uses Irony to please the close reader as there is a lot to be discovered in terms of insights in the behavior of characters such as Mr Bennet who is seldom mentioned as well as humor of which blend makes the read a memorable one. Reading and visualizing the use of irony and its effect on the characters in the book is a feature of high interest as it brings zeal into the read fulfilling a reader’s expectations in a book.
One comes to realise that despite the setting i.e. Madame Bovary having a French setting and Pride and Prejudice having an English setting. Similarly, both books had similar themes and motifs.
Despite all her attempts to achieve happiness by either buying glamorous items or by her adulterous acts, Emma still feels empty inside and becomes disgusted by everything and everyone around her including herself. We come to understand that Emma’s profligacies were not only to satisfy desire for high class but to also obnubilate the prodigious void she had inside. Emma is bombarded by the government’s order to liquidate her property. Everyone in whom she laid her trust deserts her and the only person who is there for her is the one man she dreaded the most, Charles. There is a mixture of emotions at this point which include disappointment in her lovers, her disgust in herself and the realization of the abyss in which she descended herself. This could be compared to the string of emotions Elizabeth encountered after receiving Darcy’s letter clarifying her misinterpretation of him. Just like Emma realizes rodolphe’s deceit, Elizabeth realizes Wichkam’s deceit. She is highly embarrassed by the mere presence of Darcy. Here we see both protagonists landing themselves between the unforgiving canines of deceit as it is because of Elizabeth’s prejudice against Darcy and Emma’s greed that lands them into their periods of distress
“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. as denoted by the this proverb, Emma suffers the effect of an idle mind. Due to her idleness, her mind is preoccupied by adulterous thoughts. Due to her religious upbringing, she constantly tries to resist all temptations of engaging in any infidelities. She constantly takes refuge in religion just like her window as a way to sooth her pain and escape the realities of her crumbling life.
However as she seeks solace from the priest or rather is about to, she recalls her sheltered life in the convent where she, as described by Flaubert, was “lost” in the long line of veils. She constantly yearns for anything to submerge herself and takes on reading which does not help either. She however is absorbed by an all embracing and all negating woe of which all desire and pain is eradicated. Emma, Unlike Elizabeth, does not have a sister of whom she can confide in. this causes her bedroom window becomes a symbol in the book as she stares at the window like a prisoner does through iron bars. She feels trapped and takes refuge at the window at which she can engage herself in thought. Her heart is like a bridge overwhelmed by an immense amount of weight, gave way due to the bombshells bombarded on her which was much like an emotional Hiroshima.
Elizabeth on the other end is far more fortunate than Emma as she is not deserted by anyone and has the comfort of her ever loving sister with whom she shares all her burdens and worries. The realization of her pride, unlike Emma, enables her to change her ways therefore enabling her to listen to other people’s advice therefore preventing a tragic ending.
In Both books, we encounter two ladies who are on the verge of self destruction due to their pride, prejudices and other vices. Perhaps the most intriguing and striking is Madame Bovary due to Flaubert’s ability to meticulously describe emotions that women go through. He, like a builder, arranges the various blocks i.e. literary tools and elements to build a great work of art i.e Madame Bovary. He intricately describes emotions and the environment like an artist with a painting not ignoring the simplest of details. Jane Austen on the other hand is not as loquacious as Flaubert and does quite the opposite as she uses irony to summarize some things in the book. This gives the reader a chance to be adventurous in terms trying to discover some facts in the books thus making the read more interesting. The similarities between the books are endless and their ability to catch one’s eye is immense. It is therefore without a doubt that Madame Bovary and Pride and prejudice are emotional hot cakes.