by Gustave Flaubert
Homais is a middle-class businessman at heart, but his ambitions never let him stop climbing the social ladder. He strives to be something more than just middle-class, and he attempts to pose as a cultured man to give himself an air of refinement. He’s an unstoppable networker, and always has time to talk with someone important; even in the middle of Emma’s gruesome death throes, Homais has the presence of mind to invite the two visiting doctors, Canivet and Larivière, over to his house for an extravagant lunch.
We get the feeling that he’s a nice guy as long as you’re on his side – however, when you’re not, he’s ruthless. And trust us, you don’t want to be on Monsieur Homais’s bad side. His relentless brown-nosing gets him places, and he ends the novel as a tremendously influential man. When he receives the Cross of the Legion of Honor in the novel’s closing line, all of his ambitions are fulfilled – and characteristically, he achieves this last honor simply by sucking up to the right people and talking himself up.