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Madame Bovary: Novel Summary: Part II - Chapter 3 -4

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Chapter 3
Lon is deeply affected by his conversation with Emma. The pharmacist assists the Bovarys to become accustomed to life in Yonville. The narrator informs us that the apothecary's motives are not entirely based on kindness - Monsieur Homais had violated a law forbidding anyone without a diploma from practicing medicine and received a stern warning from the authorities in Rouen. He continued to practice medicine, however, and felt that by befriending Monsieur Bovary the latter would be more likely to ignore the indiscretion. At first Charles is bereft of patients and bored but he is overjoyed at the progress of Emma's pregnancy. Emma resigns herself to her condition but, because she cannot afford what she wants, she makes no preparations for the child. She hopes that it will be a boy so it can steer its own course in the world. The child, a girl, is born one Sunday morning at sunrise. Emma names the girl Berthe because she remembers hearing the marquise at La Vaubyessard use that name. Charles' parents come for the baptism and in the absence of Emma's father Monsieur Homais serves as the child's godfather. Charles' father spends a month in Yonville making drunken displays of mock chivalry which delight Emma but disgust the elder Madame Bovary. One day Emma decides to visit Berth at the wet nurses' house and Lon accompanies her on the walk. At the wet nurse's squalid country cottage Lon is amazed at the sight of such a refined lady as Emma surrounded by such poverty. Before they leave the midwife pesters Emma for more money and goods. The peaceful walk home touches both Emma and Lon deeply though they do not admit this to each other. Back in the village Emma returns to her house but Lon climbs to the pasture on the hilltop and muses on the dreariness of his existence in Yonville.
Chapter 4
Winter arrives and most evenings Homais visits the Bovarys to tell them the news of the day. His wife's young cousin Justin, whom he keeps as an understudy but uses like a servant, usually comes for him at 8 o'clock. On Sunday evenings Charles and Emma attend the poorly attended gatherings at the Homais' house. Lon who boards with the Homais, is always in attendance. While Charles and Homais play dominos Emma and Lon look through fashion magazines and read poetry to each other. When the rest of the group has fallen asleep they have quiet conversations. Charles accepts their friendship as natural and does not question Lon's motives. Lon brings Emma various gifts including an exotic plant and he also gives Charles a phrenological head. Both Emma and Lon spend much time at their windows tending to their indoor gardens and every afternoon they can see each other as well as Monsieur Binet, the tax collector, bent over his lathe engaged in his hobby of making napkin rings. The monotonous tone of the lathe is clearly audible throughout the village. Lon is determined to declare his love to Emma but he is unable to work up the courage. Emma, who believes that falling in love is something that happens suddenly and violently does not consider her true feelings for the clerk.
Analysis of Chapters 3-4
Here we learn that, appropriate to his progressive bourgeois character, Monsieur Homais' kindness stems from self-interest. We also learn that Lon's love for Emma is in earnest. Like her he feels trapped by the confines of the small town and until she arrived had no one who shared his outlook. He and Emma develop a relationship of friendly intimacy and though he would like to confess his love he is intimidated by her refinement and position. Ironically, Emma's own conceptions of love prevent her from seeing the passion evident in the young man. The birth of her daughter is an even that Emma seemingly regards as an imposition. Binet's lathe makes its first appearance in this section - its drone will come up at pivotal points in the novel.


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