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Madame Bovary: Novel Summary: Part III - Chapter 5 - 6

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Chapter 5
Every Thursday morning Emma rises early and takes the Hirondelle to Rouen. The sight of the coastal town never fails to inspire her. Emma and Lon come to think of their hotel room as their own home. Emma enchants Lon and he imagines that she fulfills all the ideals of a mistress. Emma basks in the youthful ardor of his love. When it is time for her to leave they grow serious and say "Till Thursday!" Afterward she goes to a salon to have her hair arranged and then meets the Hirondelle for the sad journey back to Yonville. On the hill-road outside of Rouen there is a beggar whose face is deformed by disease leaving two bloody sockets in place of eyelids. He walks beside the coaches and sings a song that begins:
A clear day's warmth will often move
A lass to stray in dreams of love . . .
The beggar terrifies Emma. At home she retreats to her room where Justin helps her arrange her things. She passes the rest of the week anticipating her weekly meeting with Lon. Sometimes she tells her lover that he will one day tire of her and even lets it slip that she loved another before him though she claims that nothing happened. This torments the young man and he desires to be more admirable in her eyes. At home she dotes on her husband who suspects nothing of her affair. One day, however, he tells her that he has seen Mademoiselle Lempereur, the woman she is supposedly taking lessons from and the teacher does not know her. Emma covers by saying that the woman probably doesn't remember her name and a few days later arranges for Charles to find a receipt for the lessons. She begins to lie often and with increasing zest. One day Monsieur Lheureux sees her walking on Lon's arm in Rouen and a few days later he visits and asks for some of the money due him. She has none but he convinces her that she could sell the run-down cottage left to them by Charles' father. He even offers to find a buyer and a week later produces a Monsieur Langlois who pays 4,000 francs. Lheureux brings Emma half the money immediately. When she tries to settle her debt with Lheureux he waves off her present obligation and tempts her by producing four promissory notes for 1,000 francs each and tells her that he will raise the remaining 2,000 francs through a banker in Rouen. After commission she receives only 1,800 but wisely puts aside 3,000 so she is able to pay the first three notes. When the fourth falls due, however, it is one of her Thursdays away and a confused Charles receives the note and waits for his wife. She explains away the debt and Charles works out an arrangement with Lheureux for two more notes and then writes to his mother for help. Instead of sending money the elder Madame Bovary comes and demands to see the bill. Emma has Lheureux fix up a false bill so that her husband and mother-in-law will not suspect that she has sold the cottage. The old woman criticizes her daughter's lavish spending and fine furnishings and tells her that she has arranged for Charles to cancel the power of attorney. Emma is hysterical and brings out the document and contemptuously throws it in the fire. Seeing his wife upset Charles upbraids his mother who leaves and promises that she will not return for a long time. After she leaves Charles begs Emma to once again take the power of attorney and they have a new document drawn up. She becomes reckless in her passion for Lon and dares to walk openly with him in the street. One Thursday night she does not return and Charles, crazed with worry, rides to Rouen in the middle of the night and eventually finds her on the street in morning. She excuses herself and criticizes him for overreacting. Before long she goes to Rouen with only the slightest excuse at any time that pleased her. She demands increasingly more of Lon's attention and he finds himself being steered by her passion. He wonders where she could have learned it.
Chapter 6
Out of politeness Lon extends an invitation to Monsieur Homais to visit him in Rouen and the pharmacist, feeling something of a daredevil, decides to relive some of the glories of his youth. Emma and Lon are both surprised when Monsieur Homais accompanies Emma to Rouen one day and immediately drags the clerk off to dine. Emma is vexed and impatient and spends the afternoon waiting in their hotel room. Lon suffers through a long meal with the pharmacist who then insists on accompanying him on his business visits. Lon manages to steal a few minutes at the hotel where Emma, hysterical from waiting, fails to appreciate his predicament. Homais insists that Lon accompany him to another caf. Eventually Lon is able to return to the hotel but finds that Emma has left in a fury. In the coming weeks she tries to recapture some of her original passion for him by pushing herself to extremes. For his part, Lon grows to be somewhat frightened of her and begins to resent her. Still, he is beguiled by her beauty and her attention. One day, after leaving the hotel, she sees the walls of her old convent and sits on a nearby bench to ponder her childhood ardor and present feelings. She finds that she is totally devoted to her passions. One day a representative of Monsieur Vinart, the Rouen banker, arrives with a note for 500 francs due immediately. Emma sends him away with a promise to pay the following week. The next day, however, she receives an official protest of non-payment. She visits Lheureux in his office and he explains that he was forced to sign the note over to the banker and that Vinart will not be appeased. She is furious. He washes his hands at the whole matter and blames the banker. She pleads with him but to no avail. Finally he agrees to advance her four 250 franc notes against the balance of the cottage. Before she leaves he sells her some fine fabric on credit. Soon she finds that there is nothing to the inheritance except the cottage and 600 francs a year. She sends requests for payment to Charles' patients and selling her things in Rouen. Additionally she borrowed money from everyone she can. She signs more promissory notes. The household begins to fall into disarray and Emma becomes defensive when Charles asks about their financial troubles. Autumn arrives and she is alternatively morose and consumed by passion for Lon. She banishes Charles to sleeping in the attic while she stays awake, reading lurid novels. Lon, alarmed by the change in his mistress, wonders if he should break it off. He is about to be promoted to head clerk and he resolves to give up his romantic ideals and act sensibly. He is bored with her and her with him but she cannot give him up. She is tortured by an ideal bliss, an ideal man which she cannot grasp and she is tormented by countless official documents of debt that continue to arrive. On the night of the mid-Lenten festivities she accompanies Lon and his friends to a costume ball and in a caf afterward is disgusted by the company she is keeping. She swoons in a faint and revives thinking of her daughter. When she returns home Flicit shows her a recently arrived document that proclaims she must pay 8,000 francs the following day or suffer a public seizure of all her possessions. Lheureux refuses to help. She puts her hand on his knee but she acts insulted when he asks if she is trying to seduce him. He knowingly tells her that she has many friends and she had better raise the money through them.
Analysis of Chapters 5-6
These chapters chronicle the beginning of the end for Emma Bovary. She begins to lie compulsively - this indicates that she is beginning to live the fiction that she believes to be her destiny as depicted in the novels. She is revealed to be a creature entirely dependent upon a world of romantic ideals that does not exist. To compensate, she simply insists that the real world adhere to those ideals. Her hedonism knows no limits and culminates when she attends the masked party with Lon's working class friends. Her intricate web of deception begins to unravel and she perceives that, like Rodolphe, Lon's ardor is beginning to wane. Unable to admit the truth, however, she pursues him with recklessness that only serves to further distance the clerk. She emasculates him by assuming control of their relationship and subsuming his tastes with her own. Lheureux perceives that she is without further funds and uses his banker in Rouen to begin the process of seizing the Bovary's possessions. With her world collapsing about her, Emma finds that the romantic ideals that form her character serve only to torture her with their inaccessibility. Her day of reckoning is close at hand and succor is not to be found.


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