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Within a framework of formal perfection, Gustave Flaubert depicts the oppressive atmosphere of bourgeois life in nineteenth-century France. As it traces the progressive corruption of a woman remarkable primarily for her increasingly reckless pursuit of ignoble romantic dreams, the story reveals a fierce, satiric vision of middle-class shallowness. All the major characters Emma, her lovers, the "man of science", Homais-suffer the indictment of Flaubert. Only Emma's husbands, who is doggedly faithful and seemingly oblivious to his wife's foolishness and infidelity, survives this saga of betrayal with a humble dignity. An acknowledged masterpiece, Madame Bovary has been called the most important novel of its century.