Madame Bovary deconstructs the prim, idealized vision of the perfect nineteenth century woman, simply by giving her thoughts, feelings, and desires. Our protagonist is simultaneously the perfect woman and the nightmare woman of this period. She’s beautiful, a good housekeeper, and on the outside seems like an obedient wife, but she’s actually an adulteress, a spendthrift, and, to be honest, frivolous. Through the life of Emma Bovary, Flaubert attempts to show us an objective, intimate perspective on the difficulties of womanhood during a restrictive and judgmental time period.
Madame Bovary deconstructs the nineteenth century notion that women should have fewer desires and ambitions than men, and suggests instead that women’s subordinate role in society creates greater tensions between their internal and external lives.
Instead of focusing on differences between the sexes, Flaubert comments upon the ways in which women and men are similar.