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Free Study Guide-Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert-Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER 7

Summary

The next day the bailiff arrives to make an inventory of the Bovary possessions. The bailiff's man is "installed" in the attic so that Charles is kept unaware of what is happening in his own home. But Charles seems preoccupied, and Emma wonders if he knows of her misdeeds. The following day, a Sunday, she meets with various bankers in Rouen in the hope of raising the needed money; however, each refuses to help her. She visits Leon, tells him of her predicament, and even suggests that he embezzle the money from his office. Leon lies that he can get the money from a friend and bids her farewell. He also tells her not to wait if he is not in Yonville by three o'clock. She travels back to Yonville in the Hirondelle with Homais, who had completed some purchases in Rouen. The blind tramp appropriately walks up to the carriage as it nears the foot of a hill. Homais offers to cure him and gives him a half penny; Emma ironically tosses him a half-crown piece. It is all the money she has left.

The next morning a notice is put up in the town-square. The contents of the notice are not revealed, but they generate a great deal of excitement. Justin tries to tear it from the pillars but is reprimanded by the village policeman. At Felicite's behest, Emma visits the notary, Monsieur Guillaumin. She relates her woes to him. He makes it clear that he wants sexual favors in return for any help he would extend. Emma finds the proposition revolting and storms away in a rage. At home, thoughts of Charles' forgiving nature torture her. When Charles returns home, she runs off to see Binet. The mayor's wife and another neighbor observe the meeting with interest. They conclude from Binet's reactions that Emma must have proposed something scandalous. From Binet's place, Emma runs off to Madame Rollet's house, where she tries to collect her thoughts. She still expects Leon to bring the money to Yonville and sends Madame Rollet to fetch him, but the errand is futile. In utter desperation, she thinks of Rodolphe and sets out for La Huchette.


Notes

Emma's financial situation is desperate, but she refuses to turn to Charles for help or comfort. Sitting with him, "she (is) stricken with remorse, or rather with an immense regret which, far from extinguishing her passion, (serves) only to awaken it." Every chance she has to right her wrongs, Emma wastes; instead of confiding in Charles, she maintains secrecy and draws closer to her ruin. She goes to Rouen in an unsuccessful attempt to secure a loan. She meets with Leon and recklessly suggests that he steal money from his office. To rid himself of her, he promises to borrow the money. The reader senses his lack of intention, but Emma naively believes he will save her.

The future seems dark, and Emma feels "lost, forsaken by everything within and around her, whirling through a bottomless chaos." The image is one of confusion and fear. Emma has truly hit rock bottom. Appropriately, on the way from Rouen to Yonville, Emma sees the blind beggar again. He fills her with dread and revulsion. Ironically, his infirmities are skin-deep, while hers are deep and moral in nature. To appease her fears, she tosses him a half-crown piece, the last of her money. This act gives her the temporary reassurance that she is in control of her financial affairs. By the time she is home, however, she has resigned herself to fate and says, "What will be, will be." Emma no longer has a real will to fight. She does approach Monsieur Guillaumin, but refuses to give in to his sexual demands; she also visits Binet, who refuses to give in to her demands. In a last desperate measure, she heads to La Huchette to find Rodolphe.

Within a span of three days, Emma's world has fallen apart. She received the ultimatum of the royal order for payment on Thursday night. On Saturday, the bailiff arrives at her home. On Sunday, she makes vain attempts to raise the money. All her efforts come to naught, and her financial ruin is certain. Ironically, Charles still does not know what is happening to his world.

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