Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary at first appears to a romantic story about Emma and Charles but turns into a tragedy for them both. It is a clear example of making one bad decision after another. Emma is consistently running away from her reality to a fantasy that does not exist. This story is about the conflict between what Emma wants and what Charles wants. All the characters in this story conflict with each other.

Madame Bovary tells the bleak story of a marriage that ends in tragedy. Charles Bovary, a good-hearted but dull and unambitious doctor with a small practice, marries Emma, a beautiful farm girl raised in a convent. Although she anticipates marriage as a life of adventure, she soon finds that her only excitement derives from the flights of fancy she takes while reading sentimental romantic novels. She grows increasingly bored and unhappy with her middle-class existence, and even the birth of their daughter, Berthe, brings Emma little joy.

Grasping for idealized intimacy, Emma begins to act out her romantic fantasies and embarks on an ultimately disastrous love affair with Rodolphe, a local landowner. She makes enthusiastic plans for them to run away together, but Rodolphe has grown tired of her and ends the relationship. A shocked Emma develops brain fever and is bedridden for more than a month. She later takes up with Léon, a former acquaintance, and her life becomes increasingly chaotic. She embraces abstractions—passion, happiness—and ignores material reality itself, as symbolized by money. She is utterly incapable of distinguishing between her romantic ideals and the harsh realities of her life even as her interest in Léon wanes. Her debts having spun out of control, she begs for money, but all turn her down, including Léon and Rodolphe. With seemingly nowhere to turn and on the verge of financial ruin and public disclosure of her private life, Emma swallows arsenic and dies a painful death.

A grief-stricken Charles, who has been blindly unaware of Emma’s affairs, remains devoted to his deceased wife even as he struggles to pay her debts. After discovering love letters from Rodolphe and Léon, he becomes increasingly despondent but blames Emma’s affairs on fate. Shortly thereafter he dies, and Berthe ultimately ends up working at a cotton factory. Britannica