The Madame Bovary Syndrome is a phenomenon that occurs among different female protagonists of the nineteenth century. Based on Gustave Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary, this syndrome was defined by French philosopher Jules De Gaultier to describe chronic affective dissatisfaction with one’s life. The Madame Bovary Syndrome can be applied to the female protagonists in George Sand’s Indiana, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. Each protagonist in these stories exemplifies chronic feelings of dissatisfaction, hopelessness, and despair due to the lack of control over their lives. With the rise of the middle class, women were now considered solely to be caretakers in the home and only identified with the men in their lives, whether that be her father or her husband. These female protagonists face different forms of oppression within marriage and motherhood as a part of nineteenth century patriarchal societal conventions. As a result, each character either attempts suicide or is driven to madness. This project explores how female societal confinement is the cause of the Madame Bovary Syndrome, as well as the detrimental effects it can have on women and what choices are available to those who do face this syndrome.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2020


Randi Polk

Mentor Department Affiliation

Language and Cultural Studies, Anthropology, and Sociology

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Biological Sciences