Madame Bovary

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Emma’s second lover. When Emma first meets Léon, he is a bored, ambitious clerk who loves to talk vaguely with her about music and literature. He works for the lawyer Guillaumin, and, like Emma, feels stifled by his quiet country life. Emma likes his auburn curls and blue eyes, and they quickly become infatuated with one another. At first nothing happens between them, and Léon moves to Paris to finish his law degree. When he and Emma meet in Rouen four years later, they finally strike up an affair, fueled by many years’ longing and regret. But because their only subject of conversation is love and sentimentality, they know almost nothing of one another, and find no basis for real affection. Léon tires of Emma’s demands and wants to focus on his career. When Emma dies, Léon does not mourn her.

Léon Dupuis Quotes in Madame Bovary

The Madame Bovary quotes below are all either spoken by Léon Dupuis or refer to Léon Dupuis. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Madame Bovary published in 2002.
Part 2, Chapter 5 Quotes

With her black hair, her large eyes, her straight nose, her gliding step, always silent now, did it not seem as if she passed through life almost without touching it, bearing on her brow the pale mark of a sublime destiny? She was so sad and so calm, so gentle and yet so shy, that by her side you felt under the spell of a frosty charm, just as you shiver in church at the scent of flowers mingling with the feel of cold marble. … But she was filled with lust, with rage, with hatred.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Léon Dupuis
Page Number: 99-100
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Emma realizes that Leon is in love with her — this information delights her, and pushes her to adopt new, wifely mannerisms. Her tenderness only fans the flames of his passion and in this section, the narrator slips into Leon's mind, full of hyperbole and love. 

This description — of a "sublime destiny" and "frosty charm" — aligns with Leon's romantic sensibilities, and the reader can infer that the narrator has moved away from more impartial omniscient narration. Leon and Emma share this fragile disposition, an interest in "the scent of flowers mingling with the feel of cold marble."  In other words, Leon turns Emma into a caricature of a romantic heroine ("so sad and so calm"), just as she similarly reduces most people to novelistic archetypes. 

Dialogue then interrupts Leon's daydreaming and, when the narrator returns, readers encounter a changed Madame Bovary, "filled with lust, with rage, with hatred." Flaubert jolts the reader by juxtaposing these two contradictory descriptions, mocking Leon's naiveté and Emma's deceitful nature. Leon loves a woman who does not exist, an impossible incarnation of beauty itself, a mirage.

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Part 3, Chapter 1 Quotes

…for that was how they wanted it to have been, each of them now devising for the other an ideal rearrangement of their past. Language is indeed a machine that continually amplifies the emotions.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Léon Dupuis
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

In Part 3, Leon and Emma reunite and discuss their past, their shared love. Both tell each other lies: Emma exaggerates her illness and Leon pretends to have changed his will for her sake. The narrator drifts away from their conversation at the end of the paragraph, moving towards more a more abstract discussion of language. 

Again readers encounter Flaubert's skepticism. He does not trust language to truly convey feelings and ideas; instead, he believes that words disguise and modify reality. Leon and Emma share an inclination towards dramatic and sentimental diction and each enables the other, remaking the past into a novel. 

In the original French, the narrator compares language to a rolling mill, an obscure machine that flattens and stretches substances. The verb that follows this noun, then, is "allonger," meaning to spread or extend. While Flaubert does imply that language "amplifies" emotions, he also believes that it thins and weakens feelings. Readers might also note that the rolling mill is a machine of the industrial revolution: in some ways, Madame Bovary is a novel about the slow move away towards modernity and complete industrialization. (Charles and Monsieur Homais, for instance, are eager to test new surgical procedures on the unsuspecting Hippolyte earlier in the book.)

Was she serious in saying such things? Doubtless Emma herself had no real idea, being quite taken up with the charm of the seduction and the necessity of resisting it.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Léon Dupuis
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

Emma doesn't immediately yield to Leon's entreaties; instead, she stresses the importance of a platonic relationship. She tells him that other women will love him, but she herself is too old. Yet the narrator, as usual, questions her intentions. 

The rhetorical question beginning this quotation distances the readers (and narrator) from the scene itself, placing us at an ironic remove. Emma falls into familiar patterns, using hyperbolic and canned expressions in order to recreate scenes from novels. Despite her delusions of cynicism and worldliness, she remains fascinated by "the charm of seduction and the necessity of resisting it." She still believes she can find love if she learns the gestures of love, the confessions and calculated refusals. 

And yet the narrator tells us that Emma "herself [has] no real idea" of her honesty or lack thereof. This slight uncertainty does seem characteristic of an older, wearier Emma. She entertains fewer illusions about the correspondence between language and sentiment. 

Part 3, Chapter 5 Quotes

He admired the exaltation of her soul and the lace on her skirts.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Léon Dupuis
Page Number: 247
Explanation and Analysis:

Emma and Leon delight in their affair, and their room with its mahogany bed and red curtains. Leon, in particular, is amazed that he's found someone so elegant and refined. 

Here, Flaubert uses a clever zeugma (a figure of speech in which a word applies to two other words in different senses) to mock the young man: the verb "admired" governs both "the exaltation of her soul" and "the lace of her skirts." This unites the two grammatical objects, and also lowers "the exaltation of her soul" down to the material world. To Leon, the two, however different, simply prove Emma's social value and worth as a mistress. Both are commodities, just as her own marriage to Charles is a commodity, a fact that makes Emma more desirable to Leon. 

Of course, Emma is not guiltless either; she has turned "exaltation" into a game. Leon does not necessarily wrong her by treating her disposition as a material good. Since Emma merely mimics the gestures of love and adoration, any "exaltation" is a performance, disconnected from her internal state. 

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Léon Dupuis Character Timeline in Madame Bovary

The timeline below shows where the character Léon Dupuis appears in Madame Bovary. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 2
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
The Sublime and the Mundane Theme Icon
Love and Desire Theme Icon
Truth, Rhetoric, and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...herself by the fire: it is another one of the inn’s regulars, a clerk named Léon Dupuis. Monsieur Homais describes, in a pointedly learned and scientific way, the area’s climate and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 3
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
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Léon spends the following day waiting expectantly for dinner. He is thrilled by his conversation with... (full context)
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
The Sublime and the Mundane Theme Icon
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...birth, Emma goes out to the nurse’s house to visit the child. She runs into Léon on the street, and he shyly offers his company. The nurse’s house is small and... (full context)
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On their way home, Emma notices Léon’s fine hair and fingernails, which he cares for very conscientiously – it is “one of... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
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...much of her day observing passers-by. With a shadowy feeling, twice a day she watches Léon walk from his office to the inn. Homais joins Emma and Charles for dinner nearly... (full context)
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Léon gives Emma some cactuses, which are fashionable at the moment, and during the evenings they... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
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Causes, Appearances, and Boredom Theme Icon
...a half-built flax-mill. Emma takes the opportunity to mentally compare Charles’ dull, sluggish appearance to Léon’s lovely, refined one. Later that night, she thinks long and hard about the contrast. She... (full context)
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Léon visits Emma, but the awkwardness of their situation leaves them with little to say. She... (full context)
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Underneath, though, Emma is miserable and angry, and “filled with lust” for Léon. Her pleasure in her purity is tempered by “the cravings of the flesh, the yearning... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 6
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After dinner, Charles goes to the pharmacist’s house to return some bandages. Charles takes Léon aside and asks him to find out about ordering a daguerreotype – he wants to... (full context)
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
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...behind a curtain. That evening, she is forced to listen to Homais and Charles discussing Léon’s future life in Paris. Before he leaves, Homais announces that their town will soon be... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
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...feels confused and desolate. Her feeling of loss resembles her longing for Vaubyessard. In absentia, Léon seems ever more beautiful and marvelous, and she deeply regrets letting him go. Her sorrow... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
Truth, Rhetoric, and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Charles goes to get Emma some water and runs into Léon, recently returned from Paris. When Emma sees Léon, she is overcome with emotion. The three... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 1
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The third part begins with an overview of Léon’s time in Paris. He was somewhat popular with women, but he didn’t really get caught... (full context)
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
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...they don’t tell each other anything in particular. They both conceal their romantic histories, and Léon pretends that he’s pined for Emma all this time. They reminisce about their earlier friendship,... (full context)
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The room turns dark, and Léon implores her to start their love anew. She resists, because it is proper, but she... (full context)
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The next morning, Léon comes to the cathedral early. He is full of joy, but the attendant is meddlesome... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 2
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...thinks the writing somewhat dubious. Charles suggests that she go to Rouen and consult with Léon, and she leaves the following morning. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
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Emma and Léon spend three days together in a hotel, only leaving the room in the evenings to... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4
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The affair gives Léon a feeling of intense, persistent arrogance; he can hardly pay attention to anything else. One... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 5
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Every Thursday morning, Emma takes the coach to Rouen to see Léon at a hotel. Léon is awed by Emma’s charm and refinement, and proud to be... (full context)
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One day, Lheureux sees Emma and Léon coming out of a hotel. Three days later, Lheureux comes to subtly blackmail her for... (full context)
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Emma becomes extravagant in her efforts to dramatize her love with Léon, to draw as much pleasure from it as possible. One Thursday, she does not return... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 6
Love and Desire Theme Icon
One Thursday, Homais decides to visit Léon in Rouen. He is determined to have a wild time, and insists on drinking with... (full context)
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
Love and Desire Theme Icon
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...defects. The affair has become somewhat disappointing, despite Emma’s increasingly fervent and ornamental love letters. Léon is repulsed and a little frightened by her desperation, and stifled by her controlling temperament,... (full context)
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...misses her mother. Emma ignores her child and spends all her time and money on Léon. The clerk, meanwhile, begins to think of breaking off the affair and devoting himself more... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
Causes, Appearances, and Boredom Theme Icon
...to take a loan from one of the banks, but with no luck. She asks Léon for the money, but, after some half-hearted efforts, he fails to obtain it. She tries... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 10
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...lamenting to everyone who will listen. Emma’s father leaves after the funeral, deep in grief. Léon and Rodolphe are sleeping peacefully in their beds, but Justin sits crying at Emma’s grave. (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 11
Abstraction, Fantasy, and Experience Theme Icon
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...a secret compartment in Emma’s desk. He finds a large stack of love letters from Léon and Rodolphe. He stops taking care of himself; he no longer sees patients and rarely... (full context)