Study Guide

Madame Bovary Part 2, Chapter 9

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Part 2, Chapter 9

  • Six weeks have passed since the fair. Rodolphe hasn’t seen Emma again; at first, he just didn’t want to show up to see her right away, and decided to go on a hunting trip. However, this trip lasted a lot longer than he’d planned and, now that he’s back, he’s worried that he missed his window of opportunity.
  • He decides to give it a shot anyway and visit Emma, hoping that absence has indeed made the heart grow fonder.
  • Again, he’s right. He can immediately tell that Emma’s still totally into him. He plays his absence up melodramatically, claiming that he had to tear himself away from her. Rodolphe is a total drama king (and liar), and he theatrically wins Emma over with highfalutin’ words and extravagant declarations of passion.
  • Emma is totally swept off her feet by Rodolphe’s calculated attack. She allows herself to bask in the glow of his romantic words. However, as he continues to ham it up, they hear Charles arrive at the house. The two lovers immediately switch back into polite neighbor mode.
  • Rodolphe, ever the resourceful one, asks Charles if it might do Emma some good to take up horseback riding to improve her health. Of course, he will accompany her himself.
  • Charles thinks this is a splendid idea, and he and Rodolphe make all the arrangements. Emma, in a contrary mood, resists – however, Charles convinces her by saying that she can order a new riding outfit.
  • The next day, Rodolphe shows up promptly at noon on horseback, with a second horse in tow for Emma. After a brief warning about safety from Monsieur Homais, they’re off.
  • The pair ride off into the countryside. They get a good view of the village from up higher – to Emma, Yonville has never looked so small and miserable.
  • They venture deeper and deeper into the forest. They dismount and Rodolphe ties up the horses so they can walk into the woods unhampered. As they go, he keeps his eyes on the sliver of white stocking that show between her skirt and boots – to him, it seems like naked skin.
  • Rodolphe and Emma reach a clearing and, once they’re settled down, he starts to woo her once more…this time more seriously.
  • Emma puts up some resistance – but not too much. She gives in to his advances and, as Flaubert says, "abandons" herself to him. We all know what that means.
  • After the deed is done, Rodolphe and Emma head back to Yonville slowly. Everything seems different to her now.
  • Rodolphe is legitimately charmed by her – after all, she’s quite lovely.
  • Emma feels as though everyone is looking at her as they ride through town.
  • At dinner, Charles tells her that he’s purchased a horse of her very own. Little does he know what’s really going on…
  • Emma escapes from dinner early and goes upstairs to think over her situation in privacy. She even thinks she looks different – and she feels as though her real life is finally starting.
  • From the next day on, Emma and Rodolphe are committed to each other (at least, she’s committed to him, and believes him when he says loves her).
  • They do the stereotypical things people having affairs do – exchange notes, have secret rendezvous, etc.
  • Emma is blissfully happy. She even runs out in the early morning (after Charles has left on an early call) and races over to La Huchette to see her lover.
  • After this risky business goes on for a while, Rodolphe protests that she’s getting too careless. Is he really concerned, or can it be that he’s getting sick of her? Hmm…

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