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Madame Bovary: Novel Summary: Part II - Chapter 7 - 8

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Chapter 7
After Leon's departure, Emma is melancholy like she was during the days following the ball at La Vaubyessard. She regrets not making her love known to Leon. To compensate for what she perceives as her self-sacrifice by remaining faithful to Charles she begins ordering expensive items from Lheureux's shop. She becomes fatalistic and Charles, who notices only the outward signs of her decline, despairs for her health. Charles sends for his mother who advises him to prevent his wife from reading novels. The elder Madame Bovary departs on a market day and Emma leans out her window to watch the activity in the square. She sees a well-dressed man leading a peasant to her house and hears him instruct Justin to summon Monsieur Bovary. The man identifies himself as Monsieur Rodolphe Boulanger a newcomer to the area who recently purchased a large estate called La Huchette near the village.Boulanger has brought his servant, who complains of feeling "prickly" all over, to be bled and Charles employs Justin to help him. Soon after the blood begins to flow, however, both the peasant and Justin fall into a dead faint and Emma comes running to assist her husband. Monsieur Boulanger notices that Bovary's wife is very pretty. On the way back to La Huchette, Boulanger (who has had many women in his 34 years of life) resolves to have Emma as well. He decides upon a direct strategy of seduction to be implemented during the upcoming Agricultural Show.
Chapter 8
On the morning of the Agricultural Show the entire town is decorated full of anticipation. An antique fieldpiece will sound at the arrival of the King's prefect. Homais engages Madame Lefraneois in conversation on his way to serve on the show's advisory committee. Madame Lefraneois doesn't think much of the fair and even less of the activity at her competitor's cafe but she reserves her harshest judgment for Monsieur Lheureux whose loan notes will cause her competitor's cafe to close soon. Homais rushes off to greet Madame Bovary whom he sees walking on the arm of Rodolphe Boulanger. The pair manages to avoid not only Homais but Lheureux as well and Rodolphe steers Emma down a side lane. They make a cursory examination of the livestock exhibits and Rodolphe, noticing that Madame Bovary cares little for these things, begins to mock the show and the fashions of the Yonville ladies. They pass Lestiboudois, the gravedigger who keeps a potato patch in the cemetery, carrying chairs from the church to rent to the crowd. As they walk Rodolphe begins his seduction by explaining to Emma that despite his outward appearance of gaiety he spends much of his time feeling depressed and often wonders if he wouldn't be better off dead. The report of the canon interrupts his reverie and the crowd rushes to the square only to find that it was a false alarm. Soon, however, a stately carriage rushes into the square and a small benign-looking man emerges. He explains that the prefect is unable to attend but he, as prefectural councilor, has come in his place. Mayor Tuvache exchanges awkward greetings with the man. Rodolphe and Emma make their way to the empty second floor of the town hall in order to have a better view of the proceedings. While the prefectural councilor, whose name is Lieuvain, begins his official remarks with a lengthy discourse upon the worthiness of the King, Rodolphe continues his wooing of Emma. He tells her that though he is known for his excesses of pleasure he has never known true happiness but he asserts his belief that happiness will come suddenly one day. Lieuvain's makes several statements regarding duty which prompts Rodolphe to opine that real duty is to be true to ones own feelings. Emma protests that people must adhere to some of society's conventions but Rodolphe insists that the only true morality is the eternal one. As Lieuvain proceeds to explicate the advances in agriculture, Rodolphe moves closer to Emma and lowers his voice. He laments the manner in which society destroys noble sentiments and prevents worthy souls from mingling. Emma is overcome by the scent of Rodolphe's perfume and she imagines that she is back at the party at La Vaubyessard and then she sees the Hirondelle cresting the hill and she thinks of Leon. Lieuvain finishes his speech and other functionaries deliver orations. As the prizes for the show are announced Rodolphe states his belief that fate has brought he and Emma together and he enumerates the details of his passion for her. Emma is beguiled by his speech and grasps his hand in her own. The final prize is to an old peasant woman who scarcely understands what is happening to her. With the ceremonies over the crowd disperses and Rodolphe escorts Emma to her home. Later that evening he joins the Bovary's to watch the feeble fireworks display.
Analysis of Chapters 7-8
Emma's renewed bout of depression and unfulfilled desires makes her ripe for a man like Rodolphe whom the reader learns is bent upon seduction. Flaubert masterfully juxtaposes the official's lugubrious speechifying with Rodolphe's seduction of Emma. This passage is considered one of the novel's best and amply demonstrates the advantages of the free indirect discourse style of composition. Positioning is important in this section as Emma first views Rodolphe from above while leaning out her window onto the market and then when he woos her while they sit looking down upon the market. Thus the man and woman are linked by their sense of superiority to the town and the petty business concerns of its inhabitants.


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