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Madame Bovary: Novel Summary: Part III - Chapter 10 -12

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Chapter 10
Charles dissolves into tears. Homais returns to the pharmacy, puts off the blind man and tells the gathered crowd that Madame Bovary died of accidental poisoning. Initially resistant, Charles finally agrees to order the funeral arrangements. Against the advice of Homais and his mother, he insists that Emma be buried expensively in three coffins and with a velvet cover. That night Monsieur Homais and Monsieur Bournisien sit with the corpse and engage in a spirited argument concerning the efficacy of religion. Charles, who cannot stay away from his dead wife, interrupts them. The next night the townfolk call on Monsieur Bovary to offer condolences and Madame Lefranois and the elder Madame Bovary prepare the body for burial. That night Homais and the priest continue their vigil and their argument but eventually both men fall peacefully asleep. Charles comes to look upon his wife and screams when he lifts the veil. The priest and the pharmacist decide to partake of the brandy, cheese and bread left for them by Flicit and soon they are friendly. The coffin makers arrive and once Emma is secure inside the three coffins the doors of the house are opened to the town. Monsieur Rouault arrives and faints at the sight of the black cloth.
Chapter 11
Homais' letter to Monsieur Rouault had been too vague and the poor man had made the trip not knowing whether his daughter was alive or dead. When he regains consciousness he and Charles fall weeping into each other's arms and Homais tells them to pull themselves together for the funeral. Hippolyte attends wearing his good leg and Justin stands outside the church visibly pale and trembling. The congregation processes to the cemetery where the coffin is lowered into the ground and Charles must be restrained from pursuing his dead wife into the ground. Lheureux attends the funeral. Everyone seems visibly relieved when it is over. Monsieur Rouault immediately leaves for home. The narrator relates that Charles and his mother stayed awake late that night while the elder Madame Bovary made plans to come live with her son. Rodolphe slept well that night as did Lon but Justin was awake and weeping by Emma's grave.
Chapter 12
In time Berthe forgot her mother. Charles was besieged by debtors and he signed more and more notes. His mother left when he refused to sell anything that had belonged to Emma. Flicit fled Yonville by eloping with the manservant Thodore and stole everything that was left of Emma's wardrobe. Lon married. One day Charles discovered Rodolphe's letter on the floor of the attic but he rationalized its meaning and closed his eyes to the evidence of adultery. Justin ran off to Rouen and Monsieur Homais began restricting his children's visits with Berthe since he deemed her below their social status. The blind man was not cured by Homais' salve and in order to silence the man Homais conducted a successful campaign to have him locked in an asylum. Emboldened by his success, Homais began to adopt modern fashions and mannerisms and produced a book General Statistics Concerning the Canton of Yonville, Followed by Climatological Observations. He assists Charles in designing Emma's tombstone. New debts came in and Charles wrote to his mother for help. She agreed to mortgage her house but wrote many harsh things about Emma and demanded one of her daughter-in-law's shawls that Charles refuses to let her have. She offers to take Berthe but when the time comes for her to go Charles cannot bear to give up the child and he and his mother quarrel and irrevocably split. Charles worries for Berthe's health. Across the square the pharmacist and his family are prospering and after a long and desperate campaign Homais succeeds in being awarded the cross of the Legion of Honor. One day Charles goes through Emma's desk and finds all the love letters from Lon and Rodolphe. Unable to fool himself any longer Charles is filled with intense rage and sorrow. He refuses to leave the house and grows a long beard. One day he goes to the market to sell his horse and encounters Rodolphe. They sit down for a beer and Bovary tells him that he doesn't hold the affair against him because it was decreed by fate. Rodolphe thinks him weak and contemptible. The next evening Charles quietly dies while sitting in the arbor holding a lock of his wife's hair. Berthe is sent to her grandmother who dies the same year. With Mosieur Rouault paralyzed the young girl is sent to a poor aunt's who puts the girl to work in a cotton mill. Homais' reputation is such that no other doctors succeed in establishing a practice in Yonville.
Analysis of Chapters 10-12
At the end of the story Monsieur Homais - personifying the stupid, insensitive bourgeois that Flaubert detested - is triumphant. Not only does he succeed in driving out the evidence of his failures such as the blind man but he succeeds in promoting his pseudo-scientific tomes so that he can receive a coveted award. His reputation thus secure he is able to supplant any doctors who seek to establish a practice in the region. He is wealthy and happy and his kind, Flaubert seems to suggest, is the way of the future. Emma's anachronistic and ultimately untenable view of the world leads not only to her destruction but the death of her husband as well who cannot assimilate the obvious duplicity of the only woman he ever loved. True to his character, Charles cannot even blame her seducer Rodolphe who thinks him a fool for blaming fate for Emma's infidelities. Significantly, Rodolphe himself used fate as a justification for their affair and a reason for ending it. In a greater sense, Charles is correct in that a woman of Emma's temperament could never have been happy with him though he fails to understand why. Their daughter, perhaps the truest victim of the story, is consigned to a life of toil and we can only surmise that she will suffer few of the romantic illusions that framed her mother's life.


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