Study Guide

Madame Bovary Part 1, Chapter 8

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Part 1, Chapter 8

  • The château is everything Emma could have dreamt of. It’s gorgeous and extravagantly beautiful. Emma is profoundly impressed by the whole thing and notices every detail.
  • At dinner, Emma sees that many of the ladies take wine at dinner (putting one’s glove in one’s wineglass means "No thanks," and in the circles Emma grew up in, women just don’t drink).
  • Emma is fascinated by an old, unattractive man, the Duc de Laverdière; rumor has it that he had been Marie Antoinette’s lover.
  • Emma gets her first taste of champagne, pomegranates, and pineapple. Everything here seems better than it is at home. We get the feeling that she finally feels she’s getting what she deserves.
  • Getting dressed for the ball, Emma and Charles have a little spat. Charles wants to dance, but Emma claims it’s ridiculous, saying that people will laugh at him.
  • On this night, Emma looks better than ever. Charles, taken with her beauty, attempts to kiss her, but she just shoos him away.
  • The ball is like one of Emma’s romantic daydreams. It’s filled with beautiful women in gorgeous dresses and jewels, and – to Emma’s excitement – with beautiful men, too. Everything about these gorgeous guys radiates wealth, from their clear, white complexions to their well-cut clothes.
  • Emma and Charles are clearly in a brand new world. Emma sees some peasants looking in through the windows, and is reminded of her former life on the farm at Les Bertaux. These new visions of luxury and beauty totally sweep her off her feet, and she begins to wonder if she ever really was a simple country girl.
  • Emma witnesses a lady and gentleman exchange a secret love note.
  • Hours into the ball, a second gourmet meal is served. After this, people start to leave. By 3am, it’s time for the last dance, a waltz. Emma dances with a man Flaubert simply calls the Viscount, despite the fact that she doesn’t really know how to waltz. She stumbles, then watches the Viscount resume the dance with another lady.
  • Charles, who’s been watching (but not understanding) a game of whist at the card table all night, takes Emma up to bed, complaining all the way about his tired legs.
  • Emma stays up late, looking out the window and hoping to prolong her stay in this fantastical other world. Eventually she lets herself fall asleep.
  • In the morning, the remaining guests eat a quick breakfast, then walk around the château’s extensive grounds. Charles and Emma pack up their buggy, say their thank yous, and head back to Tostes.
  • During the drive home, they encounter a party of riders on horseback. One of them, Emma thinks, is the Viscount. Shortly thereafter, Charles has to fix something on the buggy. While he’s outside, he finds a green silk cigar case.
  • Home again, Emma is really in a foul mood. She fires the maid, Nastasie, because dinner isn’t ready on time. The word that comes to mind is "irrational."
  • Charles, on the other hand, is happy to be home. He’s a little sad to see Nastasie go, since she’s gone through a lot with him, but doesn’t want to argue with his wife.
  • After dinner, Charles tries to act like an aristocratic man by smoking one of the cigars he found in the silk case. Embarrassingly, he makes himself rather ill. Emma is disgusted.
  • In the following days, Emma rehashes the ball over and over again in her mind. She tries to remember everything about it.

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