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Love Letters in Marquez and Flaubert’s Novels

The novels by Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera and Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary make special use of the love letters as the means of connection between the protagonists’ feelings and the outside world. These authors concentrate on depicting the characters’ sacred feelings that they are bound to protect in the times of turbulence and uncertainly. Love is portrayed by both Marquez and Flaubert as the precious matter that is first represented and then preserved through such means as letters.

Love in the Time of Cholera is often regarded as the novel that sheds light on what love really brings to the world (Couteau para 2). The novel’s creative plot, setting, and numerous illustrations of the relationships between people can be compared to the growth of the plant, which appears as merely a seed first and then develops into a beautiful flower or tree. Marquez brilliantly depicts all of the difficulties that two people bonded by love have to go though in their daily lives. Love’s power to develop in such gloom surroundings, to stand beyond these evil forces and still remain intact is, probably, the most skillfully illustrated theme in the story. Just as the supreme power of heavenly feeling love may defeat the dullness of everyday being, so too it may overpower the nature of sadness, transforming Florentino’s reminiscence of love into the reality of true being in the real world. For instance, while in France, Dr. Urbino is protected by “the most outstanding epidemiologist of his time professor Adrien Proust, father of the famous novelist” (Marquez 34-35).

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At the same time, Florentino has to live in the mist of a “Proustian nightmare”, constantly suffering and longing to reunite with Fermina. While he has over 600 various lovers, Florentino honestly believes that he is a virgin because his love for Fermina is kept intact and, what is most important, unfulfilled – thus he has the right to disregard all of those lovers. Florentino was waiting for more than 50 years for Dr. Urbino to die. Then, he has no other choice but to end his emotional suffering and reveal his feelings to Fermina at the funeral. He neither thinks of the timing nor considers the feelings of Fermina who is still mourning after her husband’s death. She becomes angry at Florentino and states that he has no right to return. This is the time when the usage of love letters become fully employed by the author to illustrate the eternal power of love and the strength of written words that can unite two hearts (Couteau para 4). The letters which Florentino writes are thoughtful and full of sense, rather than elaborate and dreamy, enabling him to persuade Fermina that he has the right to love her and to be with her.

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Similarly to Love in the Time of Cholera, Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary illustrates the story of a woman’s struggle to preserve and keep her love untouched by the worldly forces. Emma Bovary tries to escape the dullness of her life by fully engaging in reading, dreaming about sacred feelings, going to different places, having multiple lovers, and purchasing luxurious goods (Cummings para 4).

On? of th? sharp?st d?bat?s in this nov?l is wh?th?r Flaub?rt tak?s on a romantic or r?alistic vi?w. Is h? a r?alist, naturalist, traditionalist, a romantic, or n?ith?r of th?s? in this nov?l? According to B. F. Bart, Flaub?rt “was d??ply irritat?d by thos? who s?t up littl? schools of th? B?autiful -- romantic, r?alistic, or classical for that matt?r: th?r? was for him only on? B?autiful, with varying asp?cts...” (206) Y?t, critics hav? no doubt that Flaub?rt combin?s his t?chniqu?s and his own styl? in ord?r to transform his nov?l into a work that cl?arly ?xhibits romanticism and a r?alistic vi?w. Through th? charact?rs actions, ?sp?cially of ?mma Bovary’s, and of imag?ry th? nov?l shows how Flaub?rt is a romantic r?alist.

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Flaub?rt giv?s ?mma, his c?ntral charact?r, an ?ss?nc? of h?lpl?ss romanticism so that it would ?xpr?ss th? truth throughout th? nov?l. It is ?mma’s ?arly ?ducation, d?scrib?d for an ?ntir? chapt?r by Flaub?rt, that awak?ns in h?r a struggl? against what sh? p?rc?iv?s as confin?m?nt. H?r ?ducation at th? conv?nt is th? most significant d?v?lopm?nt in th? nov?l b?tw??n confin?m?nt and ?scap?. Conv?nt is ?mma’s ?arli?st att?mpt to ?scap? from th? outsid? world. At first, far from b?ing bor?d, ?mma ?njoy?d th? company of th? nuns; th? atmosph?r? of th? conv?nt is prot?ctiv?; th? r?ading is don? on th? sly; th? girls ar? ass?mbl?d in th? study – all th?s? ar? imag?s of confin?m?nt and immobility. As th? nov?l progr?ss?s, imag?s of ?scap? start to dominat? and ?mma b?gins to b?com? mor? romantically inclin?d.

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In romantic fashion, sh? s??ks h?r own, individual satisfaction: sh? is doom?d in Flaub?rt’s ?y?s. Compl?t? lov? h? ?nvisag?d as aspiration, outgoing rath?r than s?lf-c?nt?r?d. Any romantic girl, ?mma for instanc?, will th?n suppos? that a lov?r is a man who wants what sh? wants, who ?xists for h?r. Nothing in ?mma’s charact?r l?d h?r to doubt this, and nothing in h?r training could t?ach h?r oth?rwis?. This is at th? cor? of Madam? Bovary and h?lps to k??p th? book aliv? (Cummings para 5-6).

Both authors employ love letters as some sort of literary devices illustrating how love can be kept untouched and protected from the outside world. Florentino uses writing in order to persuade Fermina that his feelings towards her are real. Emma is real and alive only through her letters as well. She feels completely romantic and different from everybody else in the world when she reads to writes love letters. The world is transformed in the characters’ eyes when they become engaged in love writing. The power of the honest words is clearly and brilliantly illustrated by both Marquez and Flaubert.

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