Flaubert's Normandy novel is much more than an exploration of those customs and reactionary agrarian mores of society which are suggested by its provincialism. Its international and universal dimensions constantly rise up from its dislocated centre: the couple, Charles and Emma. They embody Normandy and a ‘once upon a time’. The provincial focus is a crystallization, a reworking, of a wider and universal grand theme — the tragedy of unrequited love set in the banality of the everyday. This chapter explores Charles Bovary as a figure of male emotional and private life within marriage and the life of the couple. Abundantly, for Charles, the personal is not the political.
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