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Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary

  • Once the winter arrives, Emma moves into the parlor from her room. She sits and people-watches all day.
  • Twice a day, she sees Léon go back and forth to and from his office.
  • Monsieur Homais continues to be an attentive neighbor; he stops by every day around dinner time to discuss the daily news with Charles and to give Emma household tips.
  • After this evening chat, Justin (Homais’ cousin/apprentice/servant boy) comes in to fetch his master. Homais pokes fun at the boy for having a crush on Félicité.
  • The pharmacist also scolds Justin for eavesdropping all the time.
  • On Sundays, the Homais household entertains the few townspeople Monsieur Homais hasn’t alienated. Léon and the Bovarys always come.
  • On these occasions, Léon is always by Emma’s side, talking to her, coaching her at card games, and looking at magazines with her.
  • Something is obviously going on between Emma and Léon. Charles, unsuspecting as ever, has no idea. At this point, Emma herself doesn’t fully realize it.
  • Léon is careful to include Charles in his thoughts, as to avoid suspicions. He gives the officier de santé a splendid phrenological head model for his birthday (a kind of bizarro medical fad of the nineteenth century – supposedly different head shapes have different meanings).
  • Léon is always willing to get things for Emma, from the latest books to a bushel of cacti.
  • Emma and Léon each have little gardens outside their windows, from which they look at each other while tending the plants.
  • To show her gratitude, Emma has a gorgeous velvet bedspread sent over to Léon…it seems like something of an extravagant present. Everyone else is sure that the pair are lovers.
  • Léon idiotically reinforces this idea by talking about Emma 24/7. Even poor Binet gets so sick of him that he snaps at the boy one day.
  • Ah, l’amour! Léon is tortured by his love for Emma, and tries to figure out how to possibly tell her. He can’t bring himself to do it.
  • Emma, on the other hand, doesn’t get all worked up; she doesn’t even try and see if she is or isn’t in love with him. Flaubert ominously ends the chapter, though, with the suggestion that one day she’ll crack and her love will be out of control.

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