by Gustave Flaubert
Madame Bovary Part 1, Chapter 3 Summary
- Charles’s half-hearted mourning doesn’t last too long. Monsieur Rouault shows up the day after the funeral to deliver his payment for the medical treatment, and also to give his condolences. He encourages Charles to visit Les Bertaux again, which he does, happily.
- Monsieur Rouault cheers Charles up, and he quickly begins to forget about his dead wife. In the weeks that follow, things start to look up for Charles. He discovers that he likes living without his wife – he can decide when and what he wants to eat, and doesn’t have to explain himself to anyone. Furthermore, her death was actually good for business, since all the townspeople feel bad for him.
- Charles keeps up his visits to Les Bertaux. One day, he encounters Emma alone. She convinces him to have a drink by saying that she’ll have one, too. She pours herself a few drops of liqueur, but in order to taste it, she throws back her head and licks the bottom of the shot glass.
- Emma and Charles have their first real conversation – that is, Emma talks, and Charles listens. They even go to her room (gasp!) to look at mementos of her days as a schoolgirl at the convent. She complains about the hired help, complains about not living in the city, and generally talks a lot about herself. Charles is charmed.
- On his way home, Charles mulls over the pros and cons of starting something with Emma. He begins to wonder if another marriage might be a good idea…
- Monsieur Rouault, we discover, is not averse to this idea. He loves Emma, but he’s come to terms with the fact that she is simply useless on the farm. He himself isn’t a big fan of farming, and really doesn’t enjoy his profession. When he notices Charles’s interest in Emma, he decides to give his blessing.
- After a while, Charles finally builds up the courage ask Monsieur Rouault for Emma’s hand in marriage. In typical fashion, Charles can’t even get the words out – fortunately, his future father-in-law figures out what’s going on and says it’s all cool with him. The marriage ball is rolling.
- Notably, we don’t know what Emma thinks about any of this…
- The winter passes, and Emma busily prepares her trousseau (a fancy word for the bridal wardrobe).
- Emma reveals herself to be something of a romantic ninny; she would like to be married by torchlight in the dead of night. However, her more practical fiancé and father decide that this is probably not the best idea. A traditional wedding is planned.
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