Sunday, August 5, 2012

Madame Bovary: Apprehensively Continuing


Part Two
In all honesty, I have actually felt uncomfortable while reading this novel; at least once I considered putting it down.  Flaubert was a realist, and I appreciate realism, but I think the subject matter is difficult.  However, at this point I am going to continue unless I become so convicted that to the shelf it must go.  For now, here are my summaries from part two:

Chapter I
Charles and Emma are expected to arrive at Yonville-l’Abbaye, a town of Neufchâtel; however, they are late because Emma’s puppy has run away.  Here we meet Monsieur Homais, the pharmacist, an opinionated and nonreligious man who will help Charles to set up his practice in town.

Chapter II
When the Bovarys finally arrive, they dine with Monsieur Homais and a young law clerk of the notary, Lèon Dupuis.  While Charles and Monsieur Homais converse, Emma and Lèon find that they have a lot in common: their love of music, idealistic novels, the ocean...  Frankly, Lèon is like the female version of Madame Bovary.

Chapter III
Emma wishes to have a boy because: 
“A man is free, at least – free to range the passions of the world, to surmount obstacles, to taste the rarest pleasures.  Whereas a woman is continually thwarted.  Inert, compliant, she has to struggle against her physical weakness and legal subjection.  Her will: there is always a desire that entices, always a convention that restrains.” 
Emma gives birth to a girl and names her Berthe.  Weeks later, Emma visits her baby, who is being cared for by a wet nurse, and she asks Lèon to accompany her, although it causes people to believe they are having an affair.  And if that isn't enough, they go to the river together.  It is obvious their romantic feelings toward each other are mutual.

Chapter IV
The pharmacist and his wife often have soirées at their place, and the Bovary’s attend.  While the gentlemen play games or talk, Lèon and Emma read poetry together or look over fashion magazines.  Neither one of them considers revealing his or her true feelings to the other.  Emma leaves Lèon a gift, and this causes more suspicion in the house.

Chapter V
Emma has grown more aggravated by her husband’s insipidness and more confident that Lèon loves her.   The next time she sees Lèon, she is indifferent towards him causing him to realize that she is out of his reach; but she is still in love with him, and her dilemma is making her sick.

Chapter VI
Emma approaches the curate in hope of getting spiritual healing for her soul, but he is completely ignorant of her needs, and in frustration, she rejects Berthe, pushing her away and causing her to cut her face.  While, Lèon is confused over Emma’s behavior, he is also wearied; therefore he heads off to Paris to study law.

Chapter VII
Now that Lèon is gone, Emma wants him more, and she thinks that satisfying her material desires will alleviate her heartache.   Suddenly, a new character enters: Monsieur Rodolphe Boulanger, a wealthy landowner.  When he sees Emma, he finds an interest in her and considers a way to have her.

Chapter VIII
The Agricultural Show comes to Yonvillie.  Emma spends the day with Boulanger, who takes her to town hall to watch the festivities in private.  There he professes his love for her while she tries to restrain her self.  In the distance, she thinks she sees Léon coming!

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