Madame Bovary Part Three Chapters 8-11 Summary

     Emma arrives at Rudolphe's house. She half hopes that he is not there, but he is. He makes vague excuses for abandoning her three years ago and she pretends to believe him. She bursts into tears and he tries to comfort her. She tells Rudolphe that Charles had tried to make an investment and that the notary had run off with his money. She asks him for three thousand francs. Rudolphe does not have the money to give to her, though he might give it to her if he did.

     Emma becomes upset. She yells at Rudolphe, noticing all of his nice things and telling him how he broke her heart. He becomes angry and insists that he does not have the money. Emma leaves in a frenzy, breaking her fingernails on the gate.

     She feels like she is in an abyss, and wanders around half-mad. She comes to a conclusion that makes her feel heroic and almost happy. She rushes to the pharmacist's house and convinces the apprentice to let her in without alerting Homais and his family. She tells Justin that she needs to get rid of some rats and has him lead her to the pharmacist's workroom, remembering the time that had been there so long ago as Homais had fussed at Justin. She knows exactly where the bottle of arsenic is kept and immediately plunges her hand in it, licking the white powder off her fingers.

     When she arrives home, Charles is distraught. Emma refuses to answer questions. She sits at the desk and writes him a letter. She tells him that he can read the letter tomorrow, but that she will not answer any of his questions tonight.

     Emma begins to get violently ill that night. The poison is not kind to her, and she cries out in misery several times. At some point, Charles asks her what she's eaten and looks at her with such tenderness that instructs him to read the letter. Charles, desperate and beside himself with grief, sends for help. Although the pharmacist and the doctor from out of town arrive, there is nothing that can be done for Emma. She receives her last sacraments and looks peaceful afterward. She dies after a convulsing fit of laughter.

     Charles is inconsolable with grief. Homais rushes home to prepare something for him and to create a story that covers up the suicide. He tells the townsfolk that Emma mistook arsenic for sugar while creating a custard. Charles is forced to make the funeral arrangements and prepares a letter asking that Emma be buried in her wedding gown with her hair over her shoulders. He asks for there to be three caskets made of various materials. When others suggest that this is a bit too romantic, Charles snaps at them.

     Emma's father receives word late. Homais sends a vague letter that leaves the man uncertain is Emma is even dead. He rides to the Bovary house immediately. When he sees the black cloth of mourning, he faints. After the funeral, Emma's father refuses to stay or to see his granddaughter. He leaves.

     Charles and his mother stay up late, talking. She is going to move to Yonville to help him take care of the house. She is secretly pleased by having recaptured his affections. Rudolphe and Leon are sleeping soundly in their homes. The pharmacist's apprentice, however, is crying, full of guilt.

     Charles gets into a terrible fight with his mother, who moves out of the house. He refuses to sell Emma's things. People begin to hound him for money. The merchant asks for money. Emma's piano teacher (who she never went to) demands payment despite the forged receipts that Charles shows her. Even Madame Rollet demands payment for delivering letters to her, though she does not tell Charles what kind of letters. The maid steals Emma's clothing and runs away with her lover.

     When Leon's betrothal is announced, Charles writes to Leon that this would have pleased Emma. When Charles discovers a love letter from Rudolphe, he wonders if they had loved each other platonically. Even though Emma is dead, Charles begins to adopt traits that he thought would please her, such as wearing patent leather shoes and using perfumed wax for his mustache.

     Eventually, Charles is forced to sell everything in the house except for Emma's bedroom, which he leaves preserved. Berthe wears torn clothing and does not play with the pharmacist's children due to the gap in their social standing.

     Charles stops socializing. He makes an arrangement to have Berthe sent to live with her grandmother, but then refuses to go through with it. One day he opens Emma's desk drawer and discovers her letters from Leon. Mad with grief, he searches everything and finds the letters from Rudolphe and his portrait. When he sees Rudolphe in town, they converse. Rudolphe finds him comically meek and contemptible.

     Charles dies soon thereafter. Berthe finds him dead when goes to fetch him for dinner. An autopsy is performed but nothing is found. The house and everything in it is sold to pay for Berthe's relocation to her grandmother's. Charles' mother dies soon thereafter.

     Since Berthe's last remaining grandparent is now paralyzed, she is sent to live with a poor aunt that has Berthe work in a cotton mill. No other doctors are able to survive in Yonville, as Homais drives them all out. He performs his services illegally and has all the patients from the town.

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