Madame Bovary: Novel Summary: Part II - Chapter 9 -10
Rodolphe resolves to wait awhile before seeing Emma again and then a hunting trip further delays him. Six weeks later he finally visits her. He plies her with romantic platitudes and she is overwhelmed by the force of his passion. Charles, who suspects nothing, interrupts them. Rodolphe greets the officier de saint as docteur which flatters Charles' pride. Rodolphe suggests that horseback riding would be good for Madame Bovary's health and Charles, who is worried about his wife, readily agrees. Rodolphe offers to lend her a horse but Emma refuses. After Rodolphe departs Charles convinces his wife to accept by offering to buy her a riding habit. When the habit arrives Charles writes to Monsieur Boulanger that his wife was at his disposal and the next day Rodolphe arrives with two horses.As they ride out of the village Homais yells to the pair, "Accidents happen so quickly," and "Your horses may be more spirited than you know." They ride to a wooded hill overlooking the town and Emma notices that the wretched village looks exceedingly small. They ride into the forest, dismount and continue on foot. Emma pleads exhaustion but Rodolphe urges her onward. They come to an area recently cleared of saplings and while they sit on a log Rodolphe gently woos her. She resists and insists that what he asks for is impossible. She asks to return to the horses and he reluctantly acquiesces but before they reach the animals he convinces her to walk to the edge of a nearby pond where, weeping and filled with emotion, she surrenders and gives herself to him. Afterward they ride back to the village and Emma notices that though the outside world has not changed she feels very different. She is distracted at dinner and hardly notices when Charles tells her that he has bought her a horse. After dinner he leaves to see patients and Emma goes to her room and thinks of Rodolphe. She repeats joyfully "I have a lover!" She sees herself as a heroine in a novel. Rodolphe and Emma meet the next day and spend the afternoon in a rude hut in the forest. They write to each other every day and one morning when Charles has left before daybreak she runs to La Huchette to spend the early morning with her lover. From then on, whenever Charles leaves early, she dares the journey to the estate. One morning, however, Rodolphe tells her that her visits are foolhardy and she is risking her reputation.
Though Emma practices greater caution in her trips to La Huchette one morning she inadvertently surprises Monsieur Binet duck hunting. Although Emma does not know it Binet is hunting illegally so he is content to let the encounter be forgotten but Emma is nervous that he will see through her weak lies. That evening she and Charles go to the pharmacy and Emma is horrified to see Binet at the counter. After the close call Emma and Rodolphe change their meeting place to the arbor in the garden behind the Bovary's house. Over time Rodolphe begins to be annoyed by the intensity of Emma's devotion to him and her constant demands to reaffirm his love. One night, as they lay concealed in the small consulting room they hear someone approaching and Emma asks, in all seriousness, if Rodolphe has his pistols with which to defend her. Afterward he muses that he has nothing against the physician and observes that he is certainly not jealous or frightened of the man. Eventually, certain of her love, he stops making an effort to win her and she gleans that his passion is fading. Nevertheless she realizes that he holds complete power over her. After six months of liaisons their relationship becomes cold and formalized. When Emma's father sends a letter to the Bovary's with his annual turkey Emma is reminded of her lost youth and the romantic illusions that used to be dear to her. She reflects that she no longer has any illusions. She runs to her daughter and smothers her with affection. In her subsequent meetings with Rodolphe she is sullen and distant. Touched with remorse she begins to wonder why she doesn't love Charles. She is at a loss, however, to find something noble in her husband until one day the pharmacist provides an opportunity.
Analysis of Chapters 9-10
Emma realizes that she will be tempted to succumb to Rodolphe's advances so she resists the suggestion that they should be riding partners. Significantly, she agrees to ride with him after Charles agrees to buy her a riding outfit. Thus, her love of expensive goods coupled with her desire for a lover overcomes her reticence. Homais' warnings - such as "accidents happen so quickly" - as they leave town on their horses presages Emma's fall into adultery. Irnonically, it is Charles who makes this possible by insisting that she ride with Rodolphe and then writing to him that his wife is at his disposal. The simple observation that the area in the woods has recently been cleared of saplings leads the reader to suppose that he has planned the moment with great care. Unlike her wedding night, Emma feels different after her sexual encounter with Rodolphe. Charles unwittingly becomes complicit in the affair when he buys her a horse. Emma feels like a character in a novel and Rodolphe's lies easily conform to the expectations of a lover in a story. Her idealized emotional love coupled with a newly aroused passion for physical love renders Emma dependent upon Rodolphe's favors. As such, she cannot perceive the risks she is taking by visiting him at his estate and he, with a more realistic perspective on the affair, must point out the risks to her. As his passion fades she comes to realize that the real world does not offer the same romantic permanence of the novels.