Character List


Charles Bovary A country doctor. He lacks intelligence and imagination; he is naive and unaggressive and has the most conventional and mundane interests.

Emma Bovary She is portrayed as an irresponsible, immature, and neurotic woman who is unable to adjust to the realities of her life.

Rodolphe Emma's first lover, a shrewd bachelor who lives on his estate near Yonville.

Leon Emma's early friend and later her second lover.

Marquis d'Andervilliers A nobleman who invites the Bovarys to a ball at La Vaubyessard, his chateau.

The Blind Beggar A hideously deformed creature whom Emma encounters several times on the road between Rouen and Yonville, and who passes beneath her window when she is dying. His ugly appearance and ghastly song horrify her whenever they meet. He has been interpreted as a symbol of either Death or the Devil.

Berthe The daughter of Charles and Emma Bovary.

Binet The tax collector at Yonville.

Maitre Bocage Leon's employer at Rouen.

Bournisien The priest at Yonville. He is a good-natured and simple man but utterly lacking in intelligence, perception, or sophistication. He accepts and defends all the dogmatic and outmoded aspects of official church thought and never dares to question anything. He has no understanding of the real needs of his parishioners. He represents the ignorance and inadequacies of the rural clergy in Flaubert's time and serves as an effective counterpoint to Homais.

Mme. Bovary the Elder Charles' mother. In order to compensate for the unhappiness of her marriage, she has been an overly protective and indulgent mother. When her son becomes an adult, she is grasping and domineering and tries to run his life for him. She is jealous of Charles' affection for his wife, and as a result, she and Emma do not get along well.

M. Bovary Charles' father. He is a former army officer who was forced to resign from the service. He is tyrannical, cruel, and boastful; he spends and drinks too much and is an unfaithful husband.

Canivet A doctor from a neighboring town who is called in by Bovary after the operation on Hippolyte, during Emma's various illnesses, and at the time of her poisoning. He is hardly more competent than Bovary, but he condescends to him as an inferior, and is smug about his own skill and reputation.

Felicite Emma's maid.

Maitre Guillaumin The lawyer at Yonville for whom Leon originally worked. Emma asks him for help near the end of the novel.

Maitre Hareng A sheriff's officer.

Heloise Bovary's first wife.

Hippolyte The servant at the inn on whom Bovary and Homais unsuccessfully operate.

Hivert The coachman at Yonville.

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 equalitarian principles, 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 triumph are described.

Mme. Homais The apothecary's wife; she is a simple and placid woman.

Justin Homais' teen-age assistant. He is secretly in love with Emma and is seen crying on her grave near the end of the novel. He is naive and innocent, but ironically it is Justin who is responsible for giving Emma the arsenic.

Lagardy A well-known tenor whom the Bovarys hear at the opera in Rouen; he is also famed as a lover, and Emma's interest in him serves as an introduction to her meeting with Leon.

Lariviere A great doctor from Rouen who arrives too late to save Emma's life, and who is consulted on other occasions. He is a brilliant and highly skilled physician and is contemptuous of his less capable colleagues and of such pretentious fools as Homais. He is coldly superior and aloof in his bearing, yet he is the only doctor in the novel to express real sympathy for the suffering of his patients and to show a sense of professional dignity and integrity. Biographers have determined that in this character, Flaubert portrayed his own father.

Mme. Lefrancois The owner of the inn at Yonville.

Mlle. Lempereur The teacher in Rouen who is supposedly giving piano lessons to Emma.

Catherine Leroux An aged peasant woman who is awarded a prize at the Agricultural Show. Her humility and dedication are meant to stand in sharp contrast to Emma's way of life.

Lestiboudois The general handyman and church sexton at Yonville.

Lheureux An unscrupulous moneylender and commission merchant at Yonville who entices Emma into debt by playing on her weaknesses and fears. He eventually forces the Bovarys into bankruptcy, thus precipitating Emma's suicide.

Lieuvain The representative of the Prefect; he makes a speech at the Agricultural Show. His platitudes about patriotism, progress, duty, religion, and the nobility of agriculture serve to illustrate Flaubert's attitude toward the bourgeoisie, and are also an effective counterpoint to the platitudes about love that Rodolphe is whispering to Emma at the same time.

Nastasie Bovary's first maid; she is fired by Emma after the ball.

Roualt Emma's father. He is a simple and nearly illiterate peasant, but he is the only character of any significance in the novel who is genuinely warm and unselfish.

Tuvache The mayor of Yonville.

Vincart A banker who works with Lheureux in his financial transactions.