Based on Flaubert’s prophetic novel Madame Bovary from 1856, our five screens show the precariousness of an adult life beginning; the world that seduces her into risking what she has and craving for what she doesn’t; and when, grasping at last straws, she takes more and more dangerous turns, and thus, inevitably, she ends in misery, both economically, psychically, and physically.
Meanwhile, from the edge of the space where her life plays out on four screens, we see how this is not an individual ill nor a blameable transgression but something towards which she has been pushed all along by her surroundings. Especially the meddling pharmacist Homais represents the probing of the curious and the rejoicing in Emma’s misfortune and downfall, as we see in Probing and Meddling.
In Shaping and Moulding the young woman is being educated in and outside school, and educating herself with activities inspired by her cultural environment. In Seduction she is lured into adventures that promise her a more fulfilling life, but instead, give her heartbreak and unsolvable debts. Nothing is what it seems. Last Straw presents her ultimate, desperate attempts to happiness, but only confronts her with the impossibility of achieving it in the social passivity she has been raised to cultivate.
Hence, in Endings we witness the inevitable denouements such striving and failures entail: financial ruin, divorce, mental breakdown, death.