© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert

Dissatisfaction Theme

Sometimes life just sucks. Hey, we didn’t write the rules – it’s true. However, in most of our lives, things are a series of ups and downs. Emma Bovary's life (of Madame Bovary fame) is no different. However, most of the time, she’s stuck in "down" mode, and is never happy with what she has. Life always seems unfair to her, and she spends a good deal of her time thinking about how it really ought to be better. She’s not the only one; most of the book’s exciting characters aren’t content with simply going with the flow and accepting life as it is.

Questions About Dissatisfaction

  1. Do you think Emma could ever be completely happy? If so, under what circumstances?
  2. Are any of the novel’s characters totally satisfied with their lives?
  3. How do men and women in the novel deal with their frustrations differently? How does society affect these coping mechanisms?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Dissatisfaction is an essential element of ambition in the world that Flaubert creates.

Total satisfaction is available only to characters perceived as dull or unquestioning in Madame Bovary.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement