Madame Bovary By Gustave Flaubert Summary and Analysis Part III: Chapter 7

Summary

In the morning the sheriff's officers arrived and made a complete inventory of the household furnishings and goods, but Emma managed to maintain a stoic attitude all the time they were there. They left a guard on the premises, but she kept him hidden in the attic where Bovary would not see him. That evening Bovary seemed worried, and Emma fearfully imagined that he knew, but he said nothing. She was particularly resentful that she bore all the responsibility in this matter and that Bovary was innocent. As the night passed, she occupied herself in making plans to raise the money.

The next morning Emma went to Rouen and called on several bankers, but they all refused to make a loan to her. She asked Leon for help, but he protested that he could never raise such a large sum and became angry when she suggested that he steal the money from his employer. Finally, in order to quiet her, Leon promised that he would see his friends, and if he could raise the sum she required, he would bring it to Yonville.

On Monday, Emma was horrified to discover that a public notice of the sheriff's confiscation and auction had been posted in the market place. She went to see Guillaumin, the town lawyer. He offered to help her, but made it clear that he expected favors from her in return. Emma was insulted by his forwardness, shouted that she was not for sale, and left in a fury.

Bovary was not home and still did not know what had taken place. Meanwhile, the entire town watched expectantly to see what would happen next. Emma felt weak and afraid; she kept hoping that Leon would gallop up with the money but really had no confidence in this possibility. She was bitter and frightened. Suddenly an idea came to her — Rodolphe — and she set out for his estate. She planned to take advantage of his supposed love for her and get the money from him. It never occurred to her that what she was planning to do was actually prostitution — exactly what she had so angrily refused when Guillaumin had made the same suggestion.

Analysis

This chapter presents Emma's frantic efforts to obtain money from almost any source. She first goes to her latest lover, Leon; but since Leon is rather anxious to break with Emma, he proves to be of little help. In fact, he hurriedly gets rid of Emma by promising to do something the next day. Her failure is again represented by the appearance of the blind man. This time Homais gives the man a lecture and Emma throws him a half crown piece, the "sum of her wealth." Now she is totally destitute.

At the suggestion of her maid, Emma goes to see the lawyer, Monsieur Guillaumin, who supposedly was infatuated with Emma. He offers to give her the money, but she is expected to sleep with him. Emma is horrified and leaves in disgust. There is here a nobility in Emma's make-up. For all of her love affairs, she has never prostituted herself and totally rejects the idea. All of her love affairs have been an attempt to fulfill her dreams.

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