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Madame Bovary

A central theme in Flaubert’s novel, Madame Bovary, is that of reality versus illusion. In this story, Emma Bovary attempts to escape the mundane of normal life to fulfill her fantasies. By enjoying romantic novels, traveling from place to place, indulging in luxuries, and having affairs, she attempts to live the life that she imagines while studying in the convent. It is Emma's early education that arouses in Emma the conflict against what she perceives as confinement. The convent is Emma's earliest confinement. Her little contact with the outside world is what intrigues her, the novels smuggled in or the sound of a distant cab rolling along the streets.At first, she is excited about her new environment and enjoys the company of the nuns, "who, to amuse her, would take her into the chapel by way of a long corridor leading from the dining hall." However, she was a serious student. "She played very little during the recreation period and knew her catechism well." The church fascinates her and she is always trying to fast, find some vow to fulfill, or some sin to invent for confession.All of the girls living within the protective walls of the convent sing happily together, assemble to study, and pray. But as the chapter progresses, thoughts of escape start to infiltrate Emma’s mind. She wishes to live a life of royalty in a manor house. As her stay in the convent progresses, Emma continues to fantasize images of exotic and foreign lands. The escape technique that she uses to conjure up images of heroines in castles seems to lead inevitably to chaos and disintegration. "Sultans with long pipes swooning on the arbors on the arms of dancing girls; there were Giaours, Turkish sabers and fezzes; and above all there were wan landscapes of fantastic countries: palm trees and pines were often combined in one picture with tigers on the right a lion on the left."Emma's strange dreams by this point are chaotic with both palms and pin...

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