In Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, Charles Bovary is betrayed by his wife Emma. She commits adultery with two men, in which she pursues long-term relationships. She has an idea of what a perfect man and love affair should be from reading many novels, including Paul and Virginia. Madame Bovary's relationships with men fail due to her ideas about passion and love, particularly in the cases of Charles, Leon, and Rodolphe.
Madame Bovary's relationship with Charles fails due to her ideas about passion and love. In the beginning, Charles is the embodiment of what Emma wants in a man, so she thinks at the time. The fact that "Emma wanted to get married by torchlight at the unusual hour of midnight"(47), proves her outrageous thoughts of romanticism. She enjoys her wedding, but when she arrives at her new house in Tostes, her desire to dramatically change the house shows her constant desire of change, thinking that in every change she will find the happiness that she is seeking. She then begins to wonder as to why she is not as happy with her marriage and "what was really meant in life by the words happiness, passion, and intoxication - words that had seemed so beautiful to her in her books"(55). She dreams of a man who would introduce her to many new things and passions, but she perceives Charles as being perfectly content simply to be with her. She detests his contentment and despises him for it, and will never look at him the same way again. Charles's complacency will continue throughout their entire marriage thus making it easier for her to commit her indiscretions. Emma's burning of her bridal bouquet truly signifies the end of their marriage.
Madame Bovary's relationship with Leon fails due to her ideas about passion and love. She first runs across Leon while dining at the inn when her and Charles first arrive in Yonville. Emma and Leon "sitting side by side entered into one of those vague conversations in which chance remarks inevitably lead to the discovery of common tastes" (98).