Unfaithful and the Faithful: A Comparison of Jason from Medea and Charles from Madame Bovary

Medea by Euripides and Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert both include adultery. The major difference is that in Medea it is the husband that is unfaithful, while in Madame Bovary it is the wife that is unfaithful. Rather than compare the two unfaithful characters, it is useful to compare the two husbands in the work. The major difference between them is based on their actions, with Charles of Madame Bovary a loyal husband and Jason of Medea a cheating husband. Beyond this difference in their actions, it can be seen that there are other qualities of their characters that contribute to how they act and help explain why one is loyal the other is not. To explore this further, Jason and Charles will now be compared, with it shown that they are opposites in more than one way.

The first obvious difference between Charles and Jason relates to their faithfulness. Jason is not at all faithful to Medea, cheating on her and marrying another woman. At the same time, he shows no real love towards either of his wives. In contrast, Charles is completely and blindly faithful to his wife. He provides her with unconditional love and will do anything for her. In their relationships with their wives then, Charles and Jason are opposites, with Charles the completely unfaithful husband and Jason the completely faithful.

Jason and Charles are also opposites in what they want from life and their determination to get it. While Jason is driven and will do anything to get what he wants, Charles has no ambition at all. He is a simple man and hopes for nothing more in life than what he has. At the same time, all that he does want is his wife. After their marriage, he is described as "a happy man now, with never a care in the world" (Flaubert V). The joy he finds in life is also described, with everything related to his wife:

meal, with her sitting opposite him, a stroll along the highway of an evening, the gleam of her hand as she set a ringlet straight, the sight of her straw hat hung up on a window catch, and a host of other things which Charles had never deemed capable of affording pleasure, brought him a continuous succession of delights. (Flaubert V).

Clearly, Charles finds delight in the simple things and has no desire to achieve anything more. This includes that he has no desire to better his position in life or to achieve career success. This is best summed up by saying that Charles is a simple and content man. Jason is quite the opposite, with his life governed by ambition. He will do anything to further his position. This is clearly seen where he goes behind Medea's back and marries another one. In explaining his actions to Medea, he tries to tell her that he did it for her own good because his marriage to the daughter of a…