her with the opportunity to compare Léon favourably to Charles and she becomes "filled with a sense
of a new enchantment". She receives a first visit from Lheureux, but resists his wares and soon after
dedicates all her nervous energy to housekeeping and motherhood with the futile aim of distracting herself
from "the drabness of her home life" and her "longing for the pleasures of adultery" (5). Recalling her
convent days she seeks spiritual solace from a priest (Bournisien) but their interview leaves her more
frustrated than ever. Léon too is melancholic and decides to leave for Paris (6). With Léon's departure
she once again succumbs to the decadent and mildly reckless ennui of the nervous condition that so
plagued her in Tostes. Charles's mother, on a brief visit, prescribes a spell of hard manual labour and a
ban on reading and departs acrimoniously.
One market day Charles treats a new patient; a farm labourer brought in by his master, Monsieur Rodolphe Boulanger, the bachelor squire of the La Huchette estate, a wealthy, handsome and experienced womaniser. Rodolphe easily perceives Emma's frustrations ("I bet she's bored! - Wants to live in a town and dance the polka every night") and resolves to seduce her ("I'll have her yet!") (7). The much feted agricultural show provides the perfect opportunity; arm-in-arm they berate rural life for its tedium and together sneak up to the first floor of the town-hall from where they can watch the proceedings without being observed. The scene which follows is a masterpiece of ironic juxtaposition - as Emma and Rodolphe clasp each other's hands and discuss passion, heroism and the eternal in hushed whispers so a local Counsellor, Monsieur Lieuvain, pontificates on public duty and fertilizer, handing out prizes for the best use of manure and drainage (8). Rodolphe, calculating from experience that absence makes the heart grow fonder, does not return for six weeks, by which time Emma is ready to fall into his arms. With Charles's full approval he takes her out riding, and they make love in the forest. Emma's world is transformed: "for her something so important had happened, that it was as though the very hills had moved". She is delighted with the idea of having a lover, identifying herself with the great romantic heroines. She acts recklessly, regularly chasing through fields to La Huchette in the early hours of the morning (9). The potentially compromising nature of her behaviour is brought home to Emma when she encounters Binet on her way back from one such trip; henceforth the lovers meet in the Bovary's garden. Emma becomes increasingly sentimental, but a loving letter from her father causes pangs of regret and leads her to reassess her relationship with Charles (10). If only she could love and respect him, perhaps things would be different. Indeed an opportunity for Charles to prove himself soon arises; Homais discovers radical new surgery for the correction of club feet and urges Charles, with the support of Emma, to pioneer it on the afflicted Hippolyte, the porter at the Lion d'Or. However, the operation goes horribly wrong, Hippolyte's leg turns gangrenous and, to Emma's shame, a renowned Rouen surgeon, Monsieur Canivet, has to be called upon to amputate it. This episode is also a potent symbol of entrapment, for the surgery requires a corrective cage and it is within this construction that Hippolyte's leg putrefies. (Compare Emma's influence over the professional life of her husband to Rosamond's relationship with Dr Lydgate in George Eliot's Middlemarch). Emma can no longer bear her husband's foolish presence and turns again to Rodolphe without further qualms (11). Emma now decides that the two of them should elope and makes extravagant preparations, running up huge debts with Lheureux. Overwhelmed by the intensity of Emma's intention, Rodolphe goes along with the plan up until the last minute, knowing full well that he will never see it through (12). After they part for the last time he writes to Emma, callously blaming their eternal separation on "fate". On receiving the letter Emma rushes to the top of the house and impulsively contemplates suicide. She faints and remains dangerously paralysed by grief for several months, to Charles's bewildered distress (13). During her illness Emma's creditors begin to pursue her more menacingly. Fear of death leads her to rediscover religious mysticism.
Homais suggests a trip to the theatre in Rouen to aid her convalescence, an idea instantly seized upon by Charles (14). The performance is an opera adaptation of Walter Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor, a melodrama much to Emma's liking. At the theatre they bump into Léon who is now living in Rouen. All three go to a café and Léon contrives to persuade Charles to let Emma stay an extra day (15).
The next day Léon comes to visit Emma in her hotel. He declares his love for her and although Emma initially argues that this should remain unconsummated she arranges a meeting with him for the following day. She later attempts to cancel, but ignorant of Léon's address, cannot. They meet at the cathedral, where Léon, irritated by the unwelcome attentions of the guides, bundles Emma into a cab. They drive without stopping, the frenzied locomotion of the vehicle barely disguising the frantic activity within (this scene, seen as particularly indecent, was amongst those suppressed when the novel was first published) (1). When
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