Dissatisfaction and Mortality Essay

1154 Words 5 Pages
In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons, the protagonists experience multiple conflicts with society as a whole and with their own place in that society. Emma Bovary and Yevgeny Bazarov, respectively, determine that the solution to their struggles is suicide. By revealing their characters’ reasoning, methods, and legacies, Flaubert and Turgenev seek to expose a fundamental human need for a sense of societal belonging through the resultant act of suicide, should that need go unfulfilled. The sense of despair that is linked to both Emma’s and Bazarov’s suicides originates from their stark incompatibility with the societies into which they were born. Each protagonist goes through a life long struggle to …show more content…
When each character recognizes the extent of their alienation, they turn to death rather than succumb to societal pressure. After being rejected by everyone she relies upon and becoming fully aware of her debt and its consequences, Emma becomes devastated and impulsive. She doesn’t consider the “cause of her horrible plight – the question of money,” but simply reflects upon the lack of sympathy she has received from the townspeople and her lovers as she makes her way to the apothecary to obtain arsenic (Flaubert 1040). Similarly, Bazarov’s thoughts immediately veer toward death when he is gently rejected by Anna Sergeyevna in the garden. He hints at his impending doom, saying “I’ve lost any importance for you, and you tell me I’m kind… It’s exactly like laying a wreath of flowers at a dead man’s head” (Turgenev 176). Turgenev is showing that the personal praise is insignificant in comparison to what Bazarov perceives as his feeble impact on the world. Then, as he lies dying, the nihilist expresses his disappointment at being unable to enlighten society and to promote his values by declaring “Russia needs me… No, she clearly doesn’t” (Turgenev 194). Without the possibility of creating an impressive role for himself in Russian history, Bazarov feels as though he has nothing for which to continue living. Not only are Emma and Bazarov’s motivations for suicide quite similar, but their

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