It is well known that Flaubert harboured an obsessive hatred of the bourgeois and his mentality which erupts constantly and explosively in his correspondence, informs large parts of the works set in his own time,
Un Cœur simple and
et Pécuchet and even overflows into
Salammbô and his theatrical experiments. Since most of his thought and writing is so visibly and vitally affected by this obsession, it seems valuable to investigate its origins, its development and its significance for his art. That is the aim of this study which begins with a look at representations of the bourgeois in French literature before Flaubert and goes on to examine in detail what proves to be a more complex phenomenon than might at first sight appear.