Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Madame Bovary

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: (Published 03 February 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c616
  1. Kirsten Patrick, assistant editor, BMJ
  1. kpatrick{at}

    Gustave Flaubert was born and grew up in a hospital in Rouen, Normandy, where his father was the chief surgeon. His brother, Achille, was a surgeon too. The eponymous heroine of Madame Bovary is the second wife of Charles Bovary, a country public health doctor who “understood absolutely nothing” of his lectures when studying medicine and failed his public health service examination on his first attempt.

    Charles falls in love with Emma Bovary while tending to her father’s broken leg. Once she marries him Emma has trouble assuming the role of a country doctor’s wife. Beautiful and desirous of the freedoms enjoyed by men, she finds her new life tedious and stifling. She is given to daydreaming about living in Paris and enjoying the attentions of a handsome, …

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