Ali Salami

From Wedlock To Deadlock: Madame Bovary’s Path Toward Self-Destruction

This study explores the unexplored thicket of nineteenth-century ideology to reassess the reasons for Emma Bovary’s suicide. The historical investigation in this article shows that the doctrine of separate spheres exerted a great influence on the lives of middle-class women. Moreover, the practice of this doctrine led to a reinforcement of the rigid dichotomy of housewife and whore. As a result of such ideology, a link was established between women in the public sphere and public women, i.e. prostitutes. By tracing the traces of this ideology in Madame Bovary, this article aims to prove that Emma’s longing for public life as a middle-class woman culminates in her identification with the figure of the prostitute. This pathetic metamorphosis, which is a consequence of society’s adherence to the doctrine of separate spheres, leads her to her final suicide attempt.

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