Madame Bovary Part Three Chapters 1-4 Summary

     Leon had mostly forgotten about Emma while spending time with various women. He, of course, does not tell her this. Instead, he determines that he must have her. Emma stays in Rouen without Charles and Leon comes to see her the next day. They have a long conversation where each reveals only what he or she wants the other to know.

     Emma tells Leon that she wishes her sickness had killed her and yearns to be a nun. Leon speaks of his boredom with law school and of how he asked to be buried with the bedspread that Emma had purchased him so long ago. He admits to having been in love with her and she responds by saying that she suspected.

     Leon hints that he would like to continue to build upon these emotions, but Emma stops him to say that she is too old and he is too young and that it is not proper. She is not even sure if she believes what she is saying, as she is both caught in the slow seduction that she began and pushing that seduction away from her. She finds Leon very attractive and is impressed by his timidity after Rudolphe's boldness.

     They agree to meet the following day at a cathedral. Emma composes a letter to Leon, cancelling their meeting. She does not know where to send it, so she meets him at the cathedral to deliver it in person. They stay for a bit because Emma lets the verger give her a tour, but Leon stops it short, hails a cab, and puts Emma in the back of it. Every time that the cab driver tries to stop, Leon shouts at him to keep going. At some point, the letter is shredded and thrown out the window.

     When she arrives in Yonville, she is summoned to the pharmacist's house where he is scolding his apprentice for using a pan from his workroom that was right next to a bottle of arsenic. Charles had asked the pharmacists to break the news to Emma that her father-in-law was dead.

     Charles' mother, distraught but not particularly sympathetic, comes to stay for a while. Charles feels sad and misses his father. Emma feels extremely bored and thinks that she was making love to Leon not long before.

     While she, Charles, and Charles' mother are in mourning at home, the merchant comes to visit. He mentions that Emma could be Charles' power of attorney to take over his finances. He notes that Charles' inheritance must be coming in soon. He sells Emma some black cloth for a dress and makes a point to visit several more times, giving Emma lessons in financial etiquette and terms. Soon, Charles is convinced that Emma is knowledgeable on the subject. They do not want to entrust such paperwork with the local notary, however.

     After some urging, Charles suggests that one of them visit Leon since his professional opinion would be valuable. Emma volunteers to go but Charles doesn't want her to have to make the trip. It turns into a fight of who can be more considerate. When Emma insists that she will go, Charles finds this charming and selfless.

     Emma stays for 3 days. She and Leon have a sort of honeymoon at a hotel overlooking the water. They drink fruity beverages, have fine dinners, and go for rides in boats. Leon finds her new black dress very attractive. At the end of the trip, Emma instructs Leon to write to her via Madame Rollet in a doubled envelope.

     Leon is consumed by thoughts of Emma while at work and eventually takes a trip to Yonville to see her. He has to wait to see her because Charles is home. When they are finally able to meet in the same garden where she used to meet Rudolphe, Emma promises Leon that she will find a way to see him at least once a week.

     She is eagerly awaiting Charles' inheritance and takes to sending for the merchant frequently. She buys a pair of curtains at his suggestion and puts in an order for a carpet. People in town wonder why she entertains Madame Rollet everyday for lunch.

     Around this time, the beginning of winter, Emma picks up her music again. When she begins to play in front of Charles, she finds that she has difficulty with the notes. She worries that she has lost all of her training. She suggests selling the piano to Charles. When company comes to visit, she bemoans her inability to play.

     Neighbors begin to suggest to Charles that Emma get lessons. Charles knows that he cannot afford regular lessons, but Emma insists that irregular lessons are pointless. Soon thereafter, regular lessons are arranged for Emma. Conveniently enough, these weekly lessons are located in the city. This is how Emma gets permission to go to the city to see her lover on a regular basis.

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