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Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

by Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary Part 3, Chapter 9 Summary

  • Charles throws himself on Emma’s corpse, overcome by grief. Homais goes home, invents a story about accidental poisoning to cover up the suicide, and writes it up for the newspaper.
  • When he returns to the Bovarys’ house, he finds Charles alone and frightened, Canivet having left him.
  • Homais, with the best of intentions, attempts to distract Charles by talking about the weather.
  • Father Bournisien succeeds in getting Charles to do something about the funeral. He makes extravagantly romantic plans – ones that Emma herself would have appreciated.
  • Charles rebels against God; he curses the heavens for allowing this to happen.
  • The priest and the pharmacist sit up with the corpse all night, holding a vigil for her. The whole time, they argue about religion.
  • Charles’s mother arrives in the morning. She attempts to reason with Charles about the expense of the funeral, and he actually stands up to her for the first time.
  • The townspeople come to visit and pay their respects; they’re bored, but each is unwilling to be the first to leave.
  • Félicité is hysterical with grief. She, Madame Lefrançois, and old Madame Bovary dress Emma in her wedding gown to prepare her for her coffin. Grotesquely, a stream of black liquid flows out of the dead woman’s mouth as they lift her.
  • Homais and Bournisien continue their intellectual discussion.
  • Charles comes in to say his final good bye in private. He reflects upon his memories of their past together, looks at her dead face, and is horrified.
  • The priest and pharmacist lead him away. Homais shakily cuts a few locks of Emma’s hair for Charles to keep.
  • Félicité thoughtfully leaves a bottle of brandy and a pastry out for the men – Homais and Father Bournisien need no prompting to drink the alcohol. They part ways after finishing the bottle.
  • Finally, after Emma’s body is sealed inside three coffins, her father arrives. He faints immediately.

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