by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Theme of Wealth
Money, money, money – cold hard cash is certainly what makes this world go ‘round in this novel. Underneath Madame Bovary’s concern for human emotion and feeling, the cruel truth is that money can make or break people. Even the most romantic characters are still driven by the desire for cash or luxury goods. The lust for wealth is like the pink elephant in the room; even when we think we’re talking about love, joy, sadness or whatever else, money is always there in the background. In the end, it’s also what drives the novel to its tragic conclusion.
Questions About Wealth
- Does money equal happiness for Emma?
- Do you think the wealthy people Emma encounters at the ball (and later Rodolphe) are actually happier than she is?
- Emma is a big advocate of retail therapy. Do her purchases actually make her feel better?
- Would Emma be content if she were married to a rich man?
Chew on This
While Emma perceives wealth as the gateway to freedom, Rodolphe’s character demonstrates that money doesn’t necessarily buy true happiness.
In Emma’s mind, wealth and luxury are necessary conditions for love.