Summary and Analysis Part II: Chapter 3



All the next day Leon thought about Emma, for their meeting had been a very special event to him. This was the first time that the bashful youth had ever spoken to a lady at such length, and he was surprised at his own eloquence.

In the days that followed, Homais was of great assistance to Bovary in establishing himself, although it must be said that the druggist's motives were partly selfish. Charles was a bit gloomy, because his medical practice was slow in starting and he had financial worries. The cost of moving had been high, he had lost money on the sale of the house at Tostes, and there was now a child on the way. However, the thought of having a "baby Emma" to love also, and to watch grow, was a source of great joy to him.

Emma had originally been surprised by her pregnancy but was now accustomed to the idea. She was eager to have the child, although all the preparations made her impatient since they could not afford the kind of layette she insisted was necessary. She hoped the baby would be a boy, for she felt that only a man could have the freedom and strength to overcome the constraints that had always so frustrated her.

The child was born, and after much discussion the name of "Berthe" was selected. There was a spirited christening party, and Bovary's parents visited Yonville for a month.

One day Emma decided to visit the baby at the home of its wet nurse. She was still weak after her confinement and was beginning to feel faint, when she encountered Leon. She asked him to accompany her. Leon consented and by nightfall, rumors had spread through the town that Madame Bovary was compromising herself.

After seeing the child, Madame Bovary was pestered with lots of trivial requests from the nurse. She quickly consented to give the woman more supplies and even some brandy for the woman's husband. Then she and Leon took a long stroll along the river. Even though they didn't say very much to each other, both were aware of a strange bliss and a deeper communication. After Leon left her, he thought how radiantly she stood out, especially amid all the banalities of Yonville.


When Emma first learned she was pregnant, she thought that this could be a new experience for her, could fill her empty life with excitement, especially if it were a boy. But when the girl was born, she soon lost interest in it. Again this shows Emma's erratic nature, her inability to maintain an interest in any aspect of life. Her reaction differs significantly with Charles' and the difference emphasizes the growing breach between them. Charles thinks that with the birth of the child, he will have been through the entire range of human experience.

Emma's indiscretion in asking Leon to accompany her, foreshadows her later promiscuities. We have seen that Emma possesses an impetuous nature, and this quality will also contribute to her series of indiscretions.

Emma's encounter with the nurse foreshadows her handlings with the various tradesmen which will later take her so deeply in debt. It seems that Emma would rather give in than discuss the needs of the nurse. Later, her financial troubles are a result of her impetuousness and her failure to consider her needs.