Costume and Propriety in Madame Bovary: la 'Culture de lin'
AuthorEdgington, Erin E.
World Languages and Literatures
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Costume is analyzed as a semiotic system in Madame Bovary. An analysis of mid-nineteenth-century costume and its relationship to propriety precedes a detailed examination of references to Emma Bovary’s costume in the novel. It establishes an understanding of the central role that costume played in regulating women’s propriety. The analysis of the text itself illustrates how Flaubert used this knowledge to infuse the novel with references to Emma’s costume that would have held readily recognizable semiotic connotations to contemporary readers in terms of their relationship to the character’s descent into debauchery. An analysis of two filmic interpretations of the novel that establishes the extent to which relevant costume details have been preserved in reinterpretation of Flaubert’s work follows.