Gustave Flaubert’s classic of realism, Madame Bovary, signifies the beginning of a new fashion in literature.
It is the story of the titular character, an ordinary woman who acts out her futile and pathetic dreams. After indulging in a humiliating affair and frittering away her naive husband’s limited assets, she kills herself.
Although Flaubert chose the average people as the subject of his greatest novel, he had little compassion for them. Rather, judging from his correspondence, it is obvious that he was disgusted by those who had a “low way of thinking.” It was a deep loathing that, at times, seemed to physically cripple him. Besides his repulsion for the bourgeoisie, Flaubert seemed to have an animosity for just about everyone else.
His views of human existence and the future of mankind, for example, are deeply pessimistic. He believed that there is no redemption in this world or the next and that humanity is doomed not just to observe the horrors of this life but to suffer them while being slowly consumed by rot.