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Free Study Guide-Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 9

Summary

Rodolphe keeps away from Emma for some time. He reasons that Emma will love him more passionately after the interval. He visits her six weeks later and observes her turn pale at his entrance. He looks at her with passion, and she is flustered. He bemoans her married state and reiterates that fate has brought him to her. He goes on to tell her how he "kept a watchful eye on all about her" during the period he stayed away. He declares his love for Emma and is about to go down on his knees, when Charles returns home. Emma's ill health becomes the topic of their conversation. Rodolphe suggests that riding would help and offers one of his horses for the purpose. After Rodolphe leaves, Charles persuades a "reluctant" Emma to reconsider Rodolphe's offer. He also sees to it that she is provided with riding-gear. He writes to "Monsieur Boulanger," accepting the offer. The next day at noon, Rodolphe presents himself at the Bovarys' house with two saddle horses.

Emma and Rodolphe ride until they reach the pine woods outside Yonville. Few words are exchanged between them, and Emma turns away a few times to avoid eye contact with him. Once in the forest they dismount. In a clearing, they sit on a log where Rodolphe, in a "calm, serious, melancholy" manner, declares his love to Emma. She protests when he insists that they have a common destiny. But when he holds her wrist, she gazes at him "with moist, loving eyes." Then she abruptly demands to be taken back. Seeing that she is disturbed, Rodolphe becomes all respect and attention. He pleads with Emma to be his "friend...sister...angel." As she tries to reason with him, she leans on his shoulder and then yields to him. When she recovers her senses, it is evening. As they ride into Yonville, "Eyes (watch) her from windows." Charles observes her return to health and informs her that he has bought a mare for her. Later, when she is alone in her room, she relives the moments of ecstasy with Rodolphe that afternoon. Noticing her reflection in the mirror, she realizes that "her whole person had undergone some subtle transformation." "I have a lover, a lover," are the words she chants, "reveling in the thought as if she had attained a second puberty." The next day is equally ecstatic. When Emma sees Rodolphe, she makes him call out her name again and again and tell her that he loves her. The lovers begin to exchange passionate letters.


One morning when Charles goes on a visit before daybreak, Emma is "taken with a fancy to see Rodolphe on the instant." She walks all the way to La Huchette, Rodolphe's residence, and slips into his bedroom. The first venture is successful, and whenever Charles leaves home early, Emma slips off to see Rodolphe. This continues for some time until Rodolphe warns Emma about her indiscretion.

Notes

Rodolphe's calculating nature is revealed here. He suggests to Charles that horse back riding will be good for Emma's health; in reality, he just wants to get Emma alone. The reader realizes the difference between his and Emma's passion. He is attracted to her but does not look upon her as a 'soulmate'. His need is purely physical. For Emma, Rodolphe is her savior, someone with whom to share her sorrows. Having sensed Emma's need, Rodolphe plans his moves. He stays away for six weeks, so that when he meets Emma again she will be desperate for him. During this meeting, he states that it is "fate" that has brought him to her. Thus, he makes her believe that their relationship is predestined.

Emma's horseback rides with Rodolphe raise quite a few eyebrows in Yonville. Charles, however, is his simple, unsuspecting self and sees nothing unusual in his wife going off for rides with a bachelor. Their first ride into the wood is a beautifully constructed section that presents a marvelous description of nature. The beauty of the natural setting corresponds with the passion of the young lovers. In the woods, Rodolphe is gentle yet persuasive. At first Emma is unyielding but soon succumbs to Rodolphe's charms. "She tilted back her white neck, her throat swelled with a sigh, and, swooning, weeping, with a long shudder, hiding her face, she surrendered."

After the lovers' passions have been satisfied, Flaubert contrasts the emotions of Emma and Rodolphe. For her, "silence was everywhere. Sweetness seemed to breathe from the trees. She felt her heart beginning to beat again, and the blood flowing inside her flesh like a river of milk. In contrast, Rodolphe is a picture of nonchalance with 'cigar in mouth . . . mending one of the bridles with his pocket-knife." Ironically, he is just as insensitive as Charles. In spite of their differing attitudes, their affair develops. Emma, obviously in love with Rodolphe, becomes submissive, complying with his every demand. She boldly visits Rodolphe at his residence whenever she gets the opportunity. Her repeated visits begin to annoy Rodolphe, and one day he tells her that "she (is) compromising herself." When the chapter ends, Flaubert has clearly foreshadowed that this affair is bound to fail.

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