Madame Bovary

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Rodolphe Boulanger Character Analysis

A free-spirited, relatively wealthy landowner and womanizer. Emma falls for him because of his stylish green coat and his title, and he desires her because she seems like an easy conquest, and because she is prettier than his present mistress. Rodolphe is a cynical, calculating man who habitually feigns love and sweetness to seduce credulous women. At first Emma is very happy with him, because he faithfully copies the manners of fictional lovers, but gradually he grows tired of the charade and begins to act like himself – like a ruthless, cold, rapacious man. Emma becomes unhappy, but she does not understand why: she is not in the habit of evaluating character. Rodolphe abandons Emma the day they plan to elope together. He is indifferent in the face of her desperation and financial ruin, and he does not mourn her death.

Rodolphe Boulanger Quotes in Madame Bovary

The Madame Bovary quotes below are all either spoken by Rodolphe Boulanger or refer to Rodolphe Boulanger . 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:
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). 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 8 Quotes

It was that mingling of the everyday and the exotic, which the vulgar, usually, take for the symptom of an eccentric existence, of unruly feeling, of the tyranny of art, always with a certain scorn for social conventions which they find seductive or exasperating.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Rodolphe Boulanger
Page Number: 128
Explanation and Analysis:

At the agriculture show, Rodolphe mocks the provincial people of Yonville, particularly the women with their unfashionable outfits. This mockery appeals to Emma, of course, as it matches her own fascination with wealth, glamour, and romantic pride. 

In this section, the narrator steers clear of the characters' minds, remaining aloof, omniscient, and scornful. Both Emma and Rodolphe are mocked: the latter simply combines "the everyday and the exotic" in the hopes that he will seem "eccentric." And Emma, one of "the vulgar," falls for his trickery and believes herself to be superior to the rural society. In this moment, the narrator reduces both characters to their basic flaws. Readers might consider the source of this scathing commentary: is it a response to the couple's mockery of the townspeople? Does Flaubert want us to sympathize with the town's farmers and laborers? And does Rodolphe, a careless philanderer, represent the whole country's upper-class? 

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Part 2, Chapter 12 Quotes

Emma was just like any other mistress; and the charm of novelty, falling down slowly like a dress, exposed only the eternal monotony of passion, always the same forms and the same language. He did not distinguish, this man of such great expertise, the differences of sentiment beneath the sameness of their expression.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Rodolphe Boulanger
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:

While Emma and Rodolphe remain passionate, he becomes increasingly annoyed by her melodramatic outbursts and her endless gifts. He lumps her together with the rest of his past mistresses: they all use the same language to describe their love. 

In this passage, Flaubert hints at his own complicated relationship with language. On the one hand, he warns against Emma's tendency toward cliché and hyperbole, repeating the adjective "same" (and the noun "sameness") in order to highlight its monotony. On the other hand, Rodolphe is equally culpable, refusing to look for the "differences of sentiment" that differentiate the various mistresses. Flaubert is wary of language, since it can disguise truth and complexity, but he also seems to advocate for charity between interlocutors here. Emma is flawed, but she is fully herself, hardly indistinguishable from other women. 

Readers might also note the intriguing simile in this passage, a comparison between novelty and elegant clothing. The relationship duplicates, on a grand scale, each individual encounter, with its progression from flirtatious artifice to a sort of bleak nudity. And yet this nudity is not any more honest than the artifice, since "the same forms and the same language" appear here, too. 

And yet, in the immensity of this future that she conjured for herself, nothing specific stood out: the days, each one magnificent, were as near alike as waves are.

Related Characters: Emma Bovary, Rodolphe Boulanger
Related Symbols: “The big blue country”
Page Number: 182
Explanation and Analysis:

Rodolphe and Emma plan to flee with Berthe together; this plan makes Emma quite happy, improving her relations with her mother-in-law. At night, she dreams of her future with Rodolphe, but "nothing specific [stands] out."

Readers might consider how the "waves" here have something in common with the "blue immensity" of Chapter 9. (In both cases the word "immensity" appears, and Emma envisions herself surrounded by an all-encompassing blue substance.) Her heart's desire, pure romantic bliss, lacks some necessary specificity — it's formless and shapeless. Each wave, each day, resembles the next. The words "and yet" point to the need for specificity; love without any particular details is impossible abstraction.

Even with the verb "conjured for herself" (and a more literal translation might be "made appear for herself"), Flaubert indicates that Emma exists less in material reality, and more in a romanticized and novelized world, full of imagined futures and abstract passions. 

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Rodolphe Boulanger Character Timeline in Madame Bovary

The timeline below shows where the character Rodolphe Boulanger appears in Madame Bovary. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 7
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...in a green velvet coat walking through the square. She overhears his name – Monsieur Rodolphe Boulanger de la Huchette – and concludes that he is a nobleman. He has come... (full context)
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Rodolphe talks to Emma a little bit afterwards. She tells him that she has never had... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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...the town is in a pleasant tumult. Emma is walking arm in arm with Monsieur Rodolphe, who is admiring her inscrutable profile. They walk though a meadow, busy with people, goods,... (full context)
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A councillor arrives to say that the county prefect will not be attending the show. Rodolphe takes Emma to the empty town hall, so that they can observe the festivities in... (full context)
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Rodolphe continues to talk imploringly of love. As Emma looks at him, noting the color of... (full context)
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...her care. She is stunned by the crowd, and barely manages to receive her award. Rodolphe takes Emma home, thinking intensely about her beauty and charm. The town celebrates the end... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
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Rodolphe keeps away from Emma for six weeks, to stoke her interest. Finally he comes to... (full context)
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Charles walks in, and Rodolphe suggests that horseback-riding might improve Emma’s health. Charles readily agrees, and Rodolphe offers Emma one... (full context)
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Emma and Rodolphe go riding the following day. They ride through the countryside and into the forest, where... (full context)
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Emma and Rodolphe begin to see one another on a regular basis, meeting in a hut in the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
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...not because she cares about the townspeople’s opinions, but because she is afraid of forfeiting Rodolphe’s love. An accidental morning encounter with Binet nearly exposes her secret. Emma and Rodolphe think... (full context)
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Since Emma is already so obviously devoted to him, Rodolphe stops taking care to woo and flatter her, and she begins to fear that he... (full context)
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...to her with tearful love – all very unusual for her. She quarrels slightly with Rodolphe, and begins to wish that she loved Charles instead, though there’s very little about him... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 11
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...and affection – a kiss – and she refuses in disgust. That night, she and Rodolphe reunite. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 12
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From then on, Emma and Rodolphe are more closely bound than ever before. One day, she mentions that he might rescue... (full context)
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...pairs of boots she ruins running through the mud to La Huchette. She even buys Rodolphe an expensive riding-whip, along with other fine presents. She gets most of these things from... (full context)
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Meanwhile, she becomes ever more dramatic and demanding with Rodolphe. He dislikes her expressions of love, because they seem to him exactly like those of... (full context)
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One evening, she is especially childish and despairing. She gives Rodolphe a sign to come to the house, and begs him run away with her; somehow,... (full context)
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Rodolphe keeps pushing back their departure date, but several months later it finally arrives. The night... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 13
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At home, Rodolphe looks for some memento of Emma. He keeps a tin full of old love-letters and... (full context)
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...angry and delirious, and nearly throws herself out a window. Over dinner, Charles himself mentions Rodolphe’s departure, which is all over town. Just then, Emma sees Rodolphe’s carriage pass through the... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 14
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...stirred by sentimental religious books full of “the finest Catholic melancholy.” She thinks often of Rodolphe, and she prays to God as she once spoke to her lover. She soon realizes... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 15
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...handsome “charlatan” and heartbreaker. In his stormy seduction of the heroine, he reminds her of Rodolphe. Charles is bored and confused by the story, and doesn’t understand why the man is... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 3
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...by a womanizer with a name he cannot remember – but it is something like Rodolphe. Before Emma goes home, she and Léon agree that they will write each other through... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 7
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...the money, but he refuses. Finally she decides to try to get the money from Rodolphe, “oblivious from first to last of her prostitution.” (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8
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Emma rushes over to La Huchette, and finds Rodolphe sitting by the fire. He is moderately pleased to see her, and talks to her... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 10
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...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
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Some time later Charles finds Rodolphe’s last letter to Emma, but he forces himself to interpret it as a letter of... (full context)
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...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 leaves the... (full context)