Madame Bovary
Madame Bovary
by Gustave Flaubert
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Emma's appearance

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The more Emma transgresses, the more beautiful she grows – as though her body responds to the corruption of her soul. Emma’s beauty reaches its greatest height at the end of the novel, as she commits her worst crime, suicide.

Why should this happen, though? What does Emma’s appearance signify? There’s no absolute answer to that, but we think it has to do with her intense connection to her physicality. As Emma delves deeper into her desires, indulging more and more in sensuality, her body becomes far more present, both to us, the readers, and to Emma herself. As she gives in to her long-repressed physical desires, her body flourishes and her beauty exerts more power.

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