Adultery in Madame Bovary vs. Story of Zahra

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Adultery committed by women in many societies is considered a sin as well as an act of betrayal towards their families and towards their husbands. In Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’ and al- Shaykh’s ‘The Story of Zahra’ both the protagonists, Emma and Zahra, commit adultery in order to run away from harsh realities of their lives. Emma commits adultery in order to escape the boredom of married life with her husband Charles as well as to seek true love which can only be found in the fantasy novels she has read. Zahra, on the other hand, commits adultery in order to forget her turbulent years of childhood, to deal with the ongoing inertia of her life and to flee the harsh realities of the ongoing civil war. However the impact it has on both the protagonist and the people around them are quite different which reveals their contrasting personalities as well as the distinctive societies they live in.

One of the most important aspects of adultery committed by Emma and Zahra is what impact it has on themselves. Mesmerized by her lover Rodolphe, even though she is married to Charles, Emma decides to have an affair with him. Her thoughts during their intimacy were “she reveled in it without remorse, without disquiet, without anxiety”. This shows that her act of betrayal has not affected her one bit. In fact, she believes that her adulterous ways has made her lifelong dream come true; not to mention that it has also made her distorted vision of love and happiness come true. She never spoke of marriage to her lover and we see no sign of Rodolphe taking care of her. Emma received bliss from her adulteries with Rodolphe which shows her selfishness as well as her inability to care for her husband. Furthermore, once Emma started an affair with Rodolphe, the relationship between these two becomes stronger than ever and which results in them becoming inseparable lovers. However, she fails to realize that she has been manipulated for her lover’s personal gains and this leads her to...
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