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Free Study Guide-Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 15

Summary

While Charles and Emma are at the theater, he is his usual unsophisticated self. Emma is able to ignore him because she is caught up in the plot of the opera, which she sees as portraying her own life. She constantly compares the male lead to Rodolphe and pictures him as her lover. During intermission, Charles sees Leon at the refreshment counter and brings him to their box to greet Emma. Leon stays with them, and Emma pays scant attention to the opera. The three leave the theater and relive old memories. Charles invites Leon to Yonville. He also urges Emma to spend the next evening at the theater with Leon, for it is not possible for him to stay any longer. They separate on very cordial terms.


Notes

Emma's romanticism is unleashed during the opera, Lucie di Lammermoor. She is attracted to Edgar Lagardy, the male lead singer, and she wishes that "they might have met and loved." She sees in his character the side of Rodolphe that she had desired but had not experienced. There is no end to Emma's illusions, as she confuses art with reality. She also reveals that she has still not understood the reality of her relationship with Rodolphe. Just before the intermission, Emma reaches the height of fantasy and wants to run into the arms of Edgar Lagardy, whom she imagines to be looking at her. Flaubert inserts a brief, but telling, sentence at this juncture: "The curtain fell." The implication is that, ultimately, the curtain must fall on Emma's illusions.

Leon's reintroduction into Emma's life is timely. She again has the desire to be loved, as demonstrated by her vivid, rambling imaginings during the opera. This last chapter in the second section of the book offers her both a lover and the opportunity to err again

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