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Protagonist

Character Role Analysis

Emma Bovary

This is a no-brainer. Emma is the center of the novel’s world, and she is the only character we see in such depth and realistic detail. She is the novel’s protagonist, but notably not its heroine; this is a book without heroics of any kind. We see her actions, but are not asked to judge them…rather, we follow her through life, watching as she makes mistake after mistake. Yes, this perspective can be frustrating, but it’s also fascinating. We know her more intimately than any of the other characters, and Flaubert fleshes her out to a far greater extent. By the end of the book, Emma is almost real to us; once she’s gone, we feel the gaping hole left in the book, and in the lives of its characters.


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