Hopeless Romantics: Reality versus Imagination in Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim

2017-03-01
Although Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1856) and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim (1900) are highly distinct novels in many respects, they are strikingly similar in the way they portray their protagonists. Both Emma Bovary and Lord Jim are hopeless romantics with a major tendency to set up highly unrealistic dream worlds for themselves. Both novels are widely interpreted as seriously critical of their protagonists, whose wide capacity for imagination eventually causes their ruin. This paper acknowledges the validity of this reading but argues further that these novels have a highly ambivalent approach towards the dichotomy between reality and imagination. The paper first looks at the similar characterization of the protagonists in both novels. It then proceeds to an analysis of the distance between the narrator and the protagonist in each novel in order to demonstrate the undecidedness marking the narrators’ attitude towards the protagonists. In doing all this the paper aims to show how both novels leave the problem of reality versus imagination unresolved, pointing perhaps to the possibility of a third alternative involving the reconciliation of these opposing forces.
Citation Formats
N. Korkut Naykı, “Hopeless Romantics: Reality versus Imagination in Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim,” pp. 269–288, 2017, Accessed: 00, 2020. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/69005.