‘Care of the Self’: A Foucauldian Perspective of Emma Bovary


  • T.Mary Manonmani Ph.D. Scholar. Reg. No. 11137 Associate Professor of English St.Mary’s College (Autonomous) (Affiliated to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Abishekapatti, Tirunelveli) Thoothukudi Tamil Nadu India


Michel Foucault is a great French philosopher and historian of thought. Foucault’s theories are often considered as ‘defence technique’ for individual’s deeds rather than an initiative to advocate and propagate thoughts. Foucault’s theories of ‘care of the self’, ‘power’ and ‘sovereignty’ are applicable to Emma the protagonist of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.  His works are a milestone in contemporary thought especially because their aim is to undermine the single voice attribute of binary discourse. His views on ‘hermeneutics of the subject’,   especially on exercise of ‘power’, seem to conform exactly to the character Emma Bovary. Flaubert’s Emma implements her sovereign power within herself.  She develops a relationship within herself and lives the life of the characters that enticed her.She seeks self-assertion, acknowledgement and discovers her embodied self. Her existence is not a matter of being, but a matter of becoming. Her journey is not about discovering a fixed essence, on the contrary it is about understanding that the ‘self’ is a fluid entity which emerges out of a dynamic process, within a certain time and space, with a diversity of possibilities. The essence of Foucault’s theory could be recognized and discerned in Flaubert’s protagonist Emma.


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