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CHAPTER 5

One Sunday in February, the Bovarys, Leon, Homais and his children, and Justin, the pharmacist's assistant, take an excursion to see a spinning mill that's being built on the outskirts of Yonville. Homais, as usual, talks at length about how important the mill is going to be but no one's particularly interested. The trip gives Emma a chance to compare Charles and Leon. While her husband is the image of the country bumpkin, Leon has big blue eyes turned toward the clouds-the vision of a young prince.

NOTE:

Homais is excited about the new spinning mill because to him it's a symbol of industrial progress. Emma has gone with them for the opportunity of being with Leon. As in the scene at the inn, Flaubert divides the characters into two distinct pairs; Homais and Charles stand for the advancement of middle-class values, while Emma and Leon represent the values of Romanticism. The scene also presents a contrast between ugliness (industrial life) and beauty (romantic love).

Alone in her house the night after this excursion, Emma fantasizes about Leon and remembers the way he looked at her that afternoon. She concludes that he must be in love with her. The next day, she receives the first of many visits from the shady Lheureux, the dry-goods merchant who is always stooped in a bent position that evidences his crooked character.


He brags about his contacts with all the leading shopkeepers in Rouen and about his ability to get Emma anything she needs. He shows her his latest wares, and when she decides not to buy anything, he says that money isn't important-that she can pay him any time. He even offers to lend her money if she needs it.

NOTE:

This is the beginning of the financial disaster that will ruin Emma and Charles. The credit extended to Emma is a sign of Lheureux's middle-class desire to exploit people for all they are worth. His name, incidentally, means "the Happy One."

When Leon visits that evening, Emma goes out of her way to praise her husband, further confusing the young clerk, who now assumes that she must not like him. Whenever Leon comes to the house, he sees an image of perfect marital bliss, and can't imagine how he ever entertained the idea that Emma might love him. In reality, Emma is frightened by her runaway feelings for Leon. The only way she knows to control them is to deny them.

Though she appears to be the model of virtue, at least in regard to Charles, Emma's real feelings are evident in her physical state. She stops eating and lapses into long silences when she's with other people. Whenever Leon leaves the Bovary house, Emma rushes to the window and watches him walk down the street. Her secret desires for love and money result in a life of anguish.

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