The social construction of Emma Bovary—behavior and psychology: A feminist interpretation

Whitney Dyann Larrimore, Fayetteville State University


In Gustave Flaubert's novel Madame Bovary, Emma Bovary violates her society's norms regarding so-called proper female behavior because she is dissatisfied living as a middle-class, provincial, married woman and mother whose world is comprised solely by her home, husband, and child. Emma wants the power to accomplish more with her life, but accomplishing more implicitly means that she will have to violate the traditional roles of wife and mother. As Emma violates these roles and eventually realizes that she will never attain happiness, she finds that she is unable to function in society. She therefore suffers from emotional distress that is mirrored by her behavior. Using social construction theory and feminism, one may conclude that Emma is not solely at fault for her unhappiness. Her society helps her to construct ideas and notions regarding her sense of self and others that ultimately impede her ability to function in life.

Subject Area

Romance literature

Recommended Citation

Larrimore, Whitney Dyann, "The social construction of Emma Bovary—behavior and psychology: A feminist interpretation" (2003). ETD Collection for Fayetteville State University. AAI1450802.