Madame Bovary And House Of Spirits English Literature Essay

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The House of Sprits by Isabel Allende, is set in Tres Marias and the capital of Latin American country that goes unnamed while Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary was set in France during mid-1800s. In both The House of Spirits and Madame Bovary, men see women primarily as sex objects and subjugate them to their mental, physical and sexual domination. Both novels are set in a time where the rights of women were extremely limited, if existent at all, as they were just seen as servers of men, as daughters and wives.

In the House of Sprits, Esteban Trueba obviously sees women as sex objects as he subjects women to sexual domination and brutality.

"He attacked her savagely, thrusting himself into her without preamble, with unnecessary brutality" (57)

Shows the lack of a conscience

Its accepted in society because he did it without worrying about its morality

"Unnecessary brutality" suggest man's outlook on women as if they were nonhuman and could be treated like animals

Also seems that he is unleashing his frustrations and anger towards women onto this woman


"Before her, her mother-- and before herm her grandmother-- had suffered the same animal fate" (57)

All men at that time saw women as purely sex objects

Rape was commonplace

3 generations in a row of bastard children

"His habits of rape and whoring (were) very deeply ingrained" (96)

Esteban Trueba- His upbringing would have led him to think the way he does


"He liked her because she was not squeamish about new ideas and the brutality of love" (69)


In the House of Spirits, men also enforce their dominancy through physical brutality.

After daughter had been out all night; "Esteban Trueba was unable to restrain his evil character and he charged her with his horse, whip in the air, beating her mercilessly, lash upon lash, until the girl fell flat and rigid to the ground" (199)

Shows how Esteban is unable to restrain himself

Abuse of even his daughter is even accepted by family

Even his closest family, if women, are subject to his physical abuse


"he lost control and struck her in the face, knocking her against the wall. Clara fell to the floor without a sound. Esteban seemed to awaken from a trance" (200)

Men take out their frustration in women

He sees Claras defiance of his beliefs of women beings subservient to women causes him to beat his love in a rage in order to reestablish the order and to enforce his domination

Reestablished man's domination of women


"Ferocious fingers fastened themselves to her breasts, crushing her nipples. She was completely overcome by fear… and kept repeating a monumental no while they beat her, manhandled her, pulled off her blouse…" (407)

The son of one of the Estaban Trueba's rape victims, Esteban Garcia, ends up in charge of Esteban Trueba's his daughter in the end of the book as an army general. He ends up raping and dominating Esteban Trueba's daughter with extreme brutally.

It is the circle of brutality towards women


"If I could see you, at least I have gazed long on all that surrounds you.

At night, every night, I arose; I came here; I watched your house…Ah! You

never knew that there, so near you, so far from you a poor wretch…"

She turned toward him with a sob.

"Oh, you are kind!" she said.

"No, I love you, that is all…

But I cannot live without you! I need your eyes, your voice, your thought!

Be my friend, my sister, my angel! (Madame Bovary 112-115)


In Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Emma Bovary is subjected to profound mental, physical and sexual domination in the form of her relationship with Rodolphe.

Rodolphe, being rich and a playboy, gives him the specific traits that makes him a successful seducer for Emma

Firstly, he is a rich bachelor, having " an income of at least fifteen francs a year"(91)

As he is a playboy and has much of what a woman looks for in a man, he knows which buttons to push seduce women

Because of these sweets words and her present situation of helplessness


"I am your servant and your mistress. You're my king, my idol. You are god. You are handsome. You are intelligent. You are strong"


Rodolphe has he at his will

Rodolphe is replacing Leon

He is completely dominant over her

She is dominated by him now in all aspects: mental, physical, and sexual

Emma sees Rodolphe as a tryant like character

Controls the game of love and is playing Emma like a pawn

Emma is seeking his respect and want to be all his

Emma seems to be seeking Rodolphe's confirmation of her feminity through him

He has played her so that she almost seems to enjoy being his subordinate in their relationship


Emma:" we would go and live elsewhere…anywhere" (134) Rodolphe then replies to Emma asking, "Are you out of your mind?"

Rodolphe shows that he just wants to control her and dominated her but does not want to commit himself to her as he pretends to want

Rodolphe forces Emma into a state of anxiety which allows him to dominated her

Rodolphe employs reality and moral principle in order to shock Emma away once she gets too close

Rodolphe sees the love as an episode so when he is not attracted to the woman or is bored he just deserts her





For men love is only an episode but for women in both, Madame Bovary and the House of Spirits love for a man is the principle and central focus of their lives because they do are restricted in a male dominated society to have alternative ambitions. Therefore, in order to obtain and receive love from a man, a woman must devote herself completely to a man and make any sacrifices for his happiness. This is how women are naturally subjected to male domination; mental, physical and sexual.