On trial for writing an indecent novel, French author Gustave Flaubert (James Mason) must prove that his book Madame Bovary is a moral story. Flaubert narrates this story within a story about unhappy Emma Bovary (Jennifer Jones), who seeks love outside a stifling marriage. The affairs at first bring excitement, but Flaubert's heated tale makes clear that Bovary's adulterous choices will destroy her family.

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