Graduation Date

Summer 2020

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in English, emphasis in Applied English Studies

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Mary Ann Creadon

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Natalie Giannini

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



Broadly speaking, this thesis is an examination of passionate love: its qualities, its presentation, the ends to which it is employed, its paradoxical nature, and set of beliefs surrounding it—in short, the impossibility of it all. More narrowly, this thesis argues that in Madame Bovary, Flaubert attaches a specifically twelfth-century understanding of passion to Emma Bovary, one that is at the heart of troubadour lyric poetry. What is more, I argue that Emma finds in this vision of love, whose structure is built upon a Neoplatonist dialectic and expressed through a paradoxical antithesis, an Ideal—an ideal world, life, and vision of herself—to which she devotes her entire life.

An understanding of passion in this way, I believe, changes the light in which Emma Bovary is too often cast. Rather than advancing a point of view that perpetuates interpretations of Emma as naive, hopelessly sentimental, and at the complete mercy of (dis)illusion, this thesis argues that conceptualizing passion as an end in itself reveals in Emma a purposeful quest for transcendence as well as a nonpareil level of agency and self-actualization, the likes of which there is no equal in nineteenth-century French fiction.

Citation Style



Thesis/Project Location