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Madame Bovary: Novel Summary: Part III - Chapter 1 - 4

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Chapter 1
While in Paris, Lon had been popular with the working girls and had enjoyed going to the theater but he had also been a responsible student. He never forgot Emma, however, and seeing her in Rouen had convinced him that he must seduce her. Accordingly he follows Emma and Charles to their hotel and returns the next day. He is pleased to find that Emma has decided to stay for another night. After a long conversation about their problems and dreams Lon finally works up the courage to tell Emma that he loved her during their time in Yonville. She is pleased but claims that he is too young and she too old. The hour grows late and Lon rises to leave but he makes her promise to meet him the following day. She finally agrees and tells him that she will be at the cathedral at 11am. When he departs he says "Till tomorrow." Emma immediately writes a long letter to explain why they cannot be lovers but, not knowing how to send it, she elects to give it to him the following day. Lon arrives early the next day and to the verger's suppressed anger Lon walks about the cathedral unguided. Finally Emma arrives, shoves the letter into Lon's hand and immediately falls to her knees in the chapel of the Virgin and begins to pray for strength of will. Lon impatiently waits for her to finish and is further exasperated when, upon rising, she accepts the verger's offer of a tour. As the verger drones on about the details of the church Lon's impatience grows to the breaking point. Finally he shoves a silver piece into the man's hand, grabs Emma by the arm and pulls her from the church and into a cab. Lon orders the driver to go anywhere and all afternoon, despite several attempts by the weary driver to slow or come to a stop, the cab is seen repeating a circuitous course about the town and countryside. At one point a bare hand emerges from the window and throws bits of torn paper into the wind. At 6pm the carriage finally stops and Emma, covered in a veil emerges and walks quickly away.
Chapter 2
When Emma returns to Yonville she is told to go at once to the pharmacy where she finds the entire Homais family engaged in making jelly. She enters as Monsieur Homais is berating Justin for having taken a pan from his laboratory that was sitting next to a jar of arsenic. Although Emma senses that the apothecary has dire news for her she cannot get his attention. In his anger Homais shakes Justin and dislodges a tawdry book, Conjugal Love from the poor boy's clothing. Homais orders the kitchen cleared. As he lectures Justin, Emma interrupts and Homais quickly informs her that her father-in-law has died. She returns home to find Charles distraught and feigns compassion though she is disgusted by her husband and her life in Yonville. The elder Madame Bovary arrives and spends a great deal of time weeping with her son. Emma manages to see as little of both of them as possible and clings to the memory of her happy hours with Lon. Monsieur Lheureux arrives and Emma confers with him privately. He suggests that Monsieur Bovary should extend his promissory note with another and hints that it would be much easier if she had power of attorney. Over the following days he returns several times and drops comments about the complications of her father-in-law's inheritance and the importance of power of attorney. When Emma confronts Charles she already has a formal document giving her power of attorney for him to sign but admits that the local notary might have botched the job. Charles suggests that they consult Monsieur Lon and she volunteers to make the journey. She stays in Rouen for three days.
Chapter 3
Emma and Lon enjoy an idyllic three days together. They stay at the Hotel Boulogne on the river in Rouen and they go boating and spend the afternoon on an island. Their return journey is suffused by moonlight and they are both carried away by the beauty of the evening and their love for one another. Lon finds a discarded red ribbon on the floor of the boat and the oarsmen remarks that it was probably left by a previous party of jolly men and women headed by a man he identifies as "Adolphe" or "Dodolphe". Emma knows he is speaking of Rodolphe and she shivers. When they part she gives Lon instructions to write to her care of the wet nurse Madame Rollet. After Emma has left Lon wonders why she is so set on having power of attorney.
Chapter 4
Early one Saturday morning Lon travels to Yonville. As in the old days, he dines at the inn and afterward calls on the Bovary's but does not see Emma. Finally, late Sunday evening they meet in the lane and she promises to arrange things so that she can see him regularly. She is confident and hopeful for the future. On the strength of the imminent inheritance money she purchases more items from Lheureux and comes to increasingly rely on his services. She begins to take an interest in music again but pretends that she is rusty on the piano and needs expensive lessons. Charles eventually concedes that she should take weekly lessons in Rouen.
Analysis of Chapters 1-4
Leon's time in Paris has given him the confidence to pursue Emma. In this he is like Rodolphe whose experience had given him the ability to seduce Emma by strategy. In one of the many recurring phrases and images in the novel, Lon's parting "Till tomorrow" mirrors the final words that Rodolphe and Emma speak before he betrays her. The carriage-ride in which Emma and Lon consummate their love is one of the more famous passages in the book. Flaubert's indirect description of this event, which is not witnessed by the reader, is coupled to the coachman's exhaustion and the sexual connotations inherent to this description. Though Emma is determined to resist Lon's advances she succumbs to the force of his conviction and then, displaying her own experience at conducting an affair, orchestrates the details of their liaisons with cunning and skill. These chapters mark the zenith of her mental prowess. Not only does Emma succeed in conducting an affair with Lon she uses the occasion of her father-in-law's death to procure power-of-attorney over her husband's affairs. This is more of a victory for Lheureux, however, who now has unfettered access to a woman whose lifestyle he knows to be compromised by reckless spending and extra-marital affairs.


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