Madam Bovary Essay Research Paper Chapters 16

Madam Bovary Essay, Research Paper

Chapters 1-6


Leon did not live the romantic, bohemian life he had imagined in Paris. He was a good student and a reserved man. But he did develop a kind of urban sophistication that makes him feel quite confident in provincial Rouen. Seeing Emma again has reawakened his old feelings for her, and he goes to see her in her hotel while Charles is gone the next day. They have an intimate conversation about their old life, and Leon kisses Emma before he leaves. They agree to meet at the cathedral the next day.

Leon goes to the cathedral at the appointed time, but Emma hangs back, hoping to avoid Leon and not to fall in love with him again. She takes up the offer of the church’s beadle for a tour of the building, but finally Leon pulls her away. They go into the carriage that waits for them outside. The driver of the carriage cannot understand why they would want to be driven about aimlessly, with all the curtains pulled tight, on such a pleasant day. They spend so much time in the back of the carriage that Emma misses her Hirondale back to Yonville; she has to take a coach to catch up with it before it reaches her town.

When Emma returns home, she learns that Charles’s father has died. Charles is in mourning, and his mother moves into their house in Yonville, much to Emma’s dismay. Lheureux appears with another list of debts and encourages Emma to obtain a power of attorney over Charles’s finances in order to settle the debts. Charles naively believes his wife when she says that this would be the best approach, so he agrees. He even agrees to send her to Rouen for three days so that Leon can draw up the papers.

In Rouen, Emma and Leon enjoy a passionate romance, going to restaurants and theaters and frequently making love. When she returns to Yonville, Leon begins inventing pretexts to visit her there; he neglects both his work and his friends in Rouen. Emma continues to sink deeper into debt to Lheureux, and convinces Charles to let her take a weekly piano lesson in Rouen so that she can see Leon there on a regular basis.

Emma lives for her time with Leon and is anxious and unpleasant at home. Her relationship with Leon becomes continually more intense, and they begin to view one another as characters in a romantic novel. Charles nearly discovers the affair when he meets Emma’s supposed teacher and finds that the teacher does not know Emma’s name. But Emma shows him forged receipts from the lessons, and Charles is easily convinced that nothing untoward has occurred. Lheureux sees Emma and Leon together, but does not tell Charles–instead, he uses the occasion to blackmail Emma into selling him some of Charles’s father’s estate at a loss.

Emma makes continued extravagant purchases and sinks into more desperate debt, but she ignores her creditors because she does not know what to do. She is obsessed with her time with Leon, and with experiencing every kind of pleasure. Eventually, her excesses baffle even Leon–she tries to convince him to quit his job to prove his devotion to her. When she stays overnight with Leon in Rouen without telling Charles, she makes her husband feel foolish for worrying about her. One day, on a day Emma is scheduled to be in Rouen, Homais goes there to see Leon and monopolizes his time. Emma is left waiting in the hotel room and becomes hysterically angry, accusing Leon of loving Homais more than he loves her. She returns home in a rage, beginning to convince herself that Leon is not the man she thought he was. Emma starts to act domineeringly toward Leon, who reacts with resentment. She begins cavorting with unsavory company, even accompanying some vulgar clerks to a seamy restaurant after a masquerade ball.


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