Character Analysis Homais


The apothecary at Yonville. He is one of the most successful supporting characters in the novel because there is a complete identity between his function as a character and his function as the representative of a type. He stands for the new middle-class spirit and "progressive" outlook that Flaubert detested so much. Homais' intellect is limited, and he is poorly educated, but he is pretentious and puffed up with self-esteem. His talk consists of cliches and half-truths, and he demonstrates all the limitations and prejudices of the new bourgeoisie. For example, he is an avowed agnostic and an exponent of Voltaire, yet he is fearful and superstitious in the face of death. Furthermore, he is cowardly and irresponsible, as is shown in the aftermath of the episode concerning the operation on Hippolyte, and though he professes principles purporting equality, he is himself status conscious. Some of the best comic scenes in the novel are the conversations between Homais and his rival, the priest. Flaubert's pessimism is illustrated by the ending of the novel, where Homais' advancement and personal triumphs are described.