The Influence of Reading on Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary
Reading provides an escape for people from the ordinariness of everyday life. Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina, dissatisfied with their lives pursued their dreams of ecstasy and love through reading. At the beginning of both novels Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary made active decisions about their future although these decisions were not always rational. As their lives started to disintegrate Emma and Anna sought to live out their dreams and fantasies through reading. Reading served as morphine allowing them to escape the pain of everyday life, but reading like morphine closed them off from the rest of the world preventing them from making rational decisions. It was Anna and Emma's loss of reasoning and isolation that propelled them toward their downfall. Emma at the beginning of the novel was someone who made active decisions about what she wanted. She saw herself as the master of her destiny.
Her affair with Rudolphe was made after her decision to live out her fantasies and escape the ordinariness of her life and her marriage to Charles. Emma's active decisions though were based increasingly as the novel progresses on her fantasies. The lechery to which she falls victim is a product of the debilitating adventures her mind takes. These adventures are feed by the novels that she reads. They were filled with love affairs, lovers, mistresses, persecuted ladies fainting in lonely country houses, postriders killed at every relay, horses ridden to death on every page, dark forests, palpitating hearts, vows, sobs, tears and kisses, skiffs in the moonlight, nightingales in thickets, and gentlemen brave as lions gentle as lambs, virtuous as none really is, and always ready to shed floods of tears.(Flaubert 31.)Footnote1 Emma's already impaired reasoning and disappointing marriage to Charles caused Emma to withdraw into reading books, she fashioning herself a life based not in