Love encapsulates a whole lot of things in Madame Bovary. Seriously, just about everything relates to love: lust, beauty, power, money, fantasy – you name it. The thing is, nobody quite knows exactly what love is, which is why all these complications get tangled up in it. Our protagonist spends the whole novel going back and forth about whether she’s in love, out of love, thinking about love, dreaming about love, worrying about love. In other words, it’s a lot like modern day life.
In Madame Bovary, love and romance are incorrectly but inextricably identified with each other.
Emma is infatuated with the abstract idea of being in love, rather than the objects of her affections (Rodolphe and Léon).