Essay on Comparing and Contrasting Anna Karenina and Madam Bovary

7101 Words Dec 25th, 2012 29 Pages
Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary are two novels written in two different languages, around the same time period (late 1800s). Though they belong to two separate countries and are separated in history by a margin of about twenty five years, their socio political setting, and situational complexities are quite similar.

‘Madam Bovary’ takes us on a journey through the life of the extremely complex character of Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Raised in a convent, a lover of sensuality, desirous of an expensive urban lifestyle yet not very smart about money, it is this dichotomy of traits that keeps Emma careening from one radically
…show more content…
It is easy to see the plethora of similarities between ‘Madam Bovary’ and ‘Anna Karenina’. The plots of the two novels illustrates this - a woman in her twenties with a young child is married to a man she finds dull (and who becomes ludicrous and pitiful in her eyes once betrayed); she takes a passionate lover and the relationship deteriorates into sensuality, in part due to its illicit nature. The women begin to imagine the decline of their lovers' ardor; with Emma it is her second lover who brings out her fears of losing him - like Anna, Emma becomes more and more demanding, increasing her lover's alienation. The adulteress tries to be ever more physically alluring but becomes jealous and desperate as she feels she is losing her lover. With nothing meaningful left, she commits suicide in a moment of frenzy.

Of course, these similarities between Anna and Emma only make us more aware of how very dissimilar they are. In terms of personality, Anna is calmer, pragmatic, passionate but not destructive, familial; Emma idealistic, unchecked, self-deluded, romantic, easily won over, stubborn and selfish in every sense of the word.

Emma's early life influenced her entire approach to life. Much of the responsibility for Emma's outlook lies with her convent school education. It is there that Emma is seduced by ` the unexpected sweetness' of the sermons, prayers, masses and religious texts with their powerful images of a suffering Christ to which she

Related Documents