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Symbolism Imagery And Allegory In Flaubert's Madame Bovary

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In the novel ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert, I’ve noticed some stylistic features that he had used in the novel, those stylistic features are symbolism, imagery, allegory, and imaginary. With Emma’s appearance, it uses the stylistic features of symbolism, imagery, and allegory by how she transgresses, becoming more beautiful when she grows up. Another stylistic feature used in the novel is imagery, to tell of the blind beggar that occurs several times in the novel towards the end of the novel. Flaubert also used both Imaginary and Imagery to describe mainly butterflies, but in the novel, Flaubert just uses Imagery to describe birds and the Blind Beggar throughout the text. With the structure of the novel, there are 5 different stages throughout the novel, they are exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and denouement, which means the un-knotting of the story or characters at the very last minute.

Symbolism, imagery, and allegory are used to describe Emma’s appearance and the blind man. With Emma’s appearance, the more time she transgresses, the more beautiful she grows, even though her body responds to the corruption of her soul. “ Emma was like all his mistresses; and the charm of novelty, gradually falling away like a garment, laid bare the eternal monotony of passion”. As Emma inquires deeper and deeper into her desires, indulging in sensuality, her body became far more present, to both the reader and Emma herself. “The wish took possession of her to run after and rejoin him”. With the blind man, when he has appeared throughout the novel, repeatedly. He represents the intensifying corruption of Emma’s soul, which made the situation worse every time, he’s been showing up more frequently throughout the novel.

With Imaginary, there are butterflies, which are represented by how Madame Bovary has been lost in a romantic illusion; metamorphosis. “Everything, even herself, was now unbearable to her. She wished that taking wing like a bird, she could fly somewhere, far away to regions of purity, and there grow young again.” With imagery, Butterflies (again) are represented by ugly grob to beautiful butterflies-which they live for a short amount of time. Birds are represented by lost in the ‘real’ world, more like they’re caged birds. ‘Emma was leaning out at the window; she was often there. The window in the provinces replaces the theatre and the promenade, and she assumed herself watching the crowd of boors’. Also, there’s also a blind beggar, which is represented by her sins, who first challenged Emma during her travel from Rouen to Yonville.

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Flaubert used Symbolism to describe the blind beggar, the blind beggar is a picture of decay, how follows Emma around in a carriage, which Emma rides to meet up with Leon, also symbolizes Emma’s corruption. He sing-songs about ‘birds and sunshine and green leaves’ in a voice that’s like an inarticulate lament of some vague despair. This pairing of innocence with a disease that relates to the combination of beauty and corruption that Emma has to herself. On the outside, with Emma’s words, her appearance and fantasies are of an innocent wife, but deep down, her spirit becomes foul and corrupt. Later on, when Emma dies, the blind beggar gets to the end of his song about a young woman dreaming, then, later on, we discovered that what we thought was a song, the song was about an innocent woman is actually a rude and sexual song.

With the structure of the novel, there are 5 stages, they are ‘Exposition’, ‘Rising Action’, ‘Climax’, ‘Falling Action’ and ‘Denouement’. With exposition in the novel, talks about how everything is moving up to Yonville and it’s in First Person narrative; a detailed description of the provincial bourgeois life. Rising Action during the novel is Leon’s attraction and Rodolph’s seduction to Madame Bovary (wife) who’s Emma (femme fatale). “She was in love with Leon and sought solitude the she might with the more ease delight in his image.” pg 82 The climax of the story is L’heureux wants to collect the debt and Emma is running out of options, which really bites. Falling Action that happens in the novel is all of the illusion dies throughout the novel; Justin gives Arsenic. Denouement means the un-knotting of the story or characters, throughout the novel, Emma goes through slow pain, Charles depression comes and Bertha became orphaned; people stated the last of her nice clothing at the age of 9-10 years old.

In summary, Gustave Flaubert used stylistic features such as symbolism, imagery, allegory, and imagery throughout the novel of Madame Bovary. Flaubert also used symbolism, imagery, and allegory to describe Emma’s appearance and just used Imagery to describe the Blind Beggar throughout the novel, on how he came up throughout the novel, which he represented Emma’s soul, which was becoming intensifying corrupted throughout, which became appearing more and more towards the end of the novel. The novel also used both Imaginary and Imagery to mainly describe butterflies and birds. Int the novel, there are 5 different stages, the stages are Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Denouement, which means the un-knotting of the story or characters at the very last minute.

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Symbolism Imagery And Allegory In Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. (2021, August 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“Symbolism Imagery And Allegory In Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.” Edubirdie, 27 Aug. 2021,
Symbolism Imagery And Allegory In Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2023].
Symbolism Imagery And Allegory In Flaubert’s Madame Bovary [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Aug 27 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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