Summary and Analysis Part I: Chapters 4-5



The wedding was a gala affair with many friends and relatives present. There was much good fun; the only unpleasant note was the sullen attitude of Bovary's mother who resented not having had a hand in the plans or preparations. Charles' great happiness was apparent to all who saw him, and Emma too seemed pleased by her marriage. After two days at Roualt's farm, the couple returned to Tostes.

Charles proudly led Emma into her new house, the furnishings and arrangement of which are described in great detail. Emma discovered her predecessor's wedding bouquet on display in the bedroom, where Bovary had thoughtlessly left it. She indulged in some morbid thoughts, but her sorrowful mood passed quickly in the excitement of the moment. In the days that followed, Bovary's every thought was with his wife, and all his efforts were devoted to pleasing her. He took her for walks and enjoyed fulfilling her every whim. He had never known that life could be so pleasant. But Emma wondered why she had not attained the happiness she expected from marriage and what happened to such words as "bliss" "passion," and "ecstasy," words that had sounded so wonderful when read in books.


Chapter 4 devotes itself to creating a realistic picture of a country wedding. Flaubert, in a few masterful strokes, makes us feel the entire provincial life. Scenes such as these account for Flaubert's title as the first master of perfect realism.

In both chapters, the reader should note how utterly Charles dotes on Emma. His dogged devotion accounts for his later blindness to Emma's faults and his later desire to fulfill her every whim.

Emma's desire to change the house should not be seen as a touch of individuality on her part. Rather, she will be seen to be constantly desiring a change, thinking that in every change she will find the happiness that she is seeking.

The first blow to Emma's romantic nature comes when she sees the still-preserved bridal bouquet held over from Charles' first marriage. This takes away from the sentimentality she is trying to attach to her own bouquet.

At the end of Chapter 5, Emma's true nature is beginning to emerge. She is already disillusioned because marriage is not as great in real life as it was in her books. She is disappointed because she has not found all of the "bliss, passion, and ecstasy" that she had read about in novels. This idea will now be developed as the main theme of the book. That is, the contrast Emma finds between the realistic world and her dreams of what life should be.