Madame Bovary

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Madame Bovary Part 3, Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Charles is insane with grief. On his way out, Homais is stopped by the beggar, who has come to Yonville to get the ointment Homais promised him. Homais tells the man he is busy. He also spreads the rumor that Emma died by accidentally using arsenic instead of sugar in a pudding.
Homais often makes a show of sympathy, understanding, and all the likeable emotions. At first acquaintance, we have no real reason to doubt him (other than his unctuous manners). Here, he shows the full extent of his indifference.
Themes
The Sublime and the Mundane Theme Icon
Causes, Appearances, and Boredom Theme Icon
Truth, Rhetoric, and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
At first Charles does not want to bury Emma, but finally Homais and the priest persuade him. Charles decides that Emma should be buried in her wedding-dress, in three coffins, the last one covered in green velvet. Later that evening, Homais and the priest come to sit with Emma’s body. They begin to argue about the use of prayer and then about religion in general. Charles keeps coming in to look at Emma’s body, calling to her and trying to bring her back to life.
Charles has always loved Emma in the way he thinks people ought to be loved – for being good, kind, caring. Her death somehow makes it clear to him – consciously or not –that her defining characteristic is a preoccupation with appearances, and he decides to honor her by investing her final appearance with great significance.
Themes
Love and Desire Theme Icon
Causes, Appearances, and Boredom Theme Icon
Truth, Rhetoric, and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The next day, the elder Madame Bovary and the innkeeper prepare Emma’s body for the funeral. They think she looks beautiful in her wedding dress. When they lift her up, black liquid comes out of her mouth. The pharmacist and the priest continue their debate. Charles comes in to say goodbye to Emma, and stands there for a long time thinking about the past, especially his wedding-day. He lifts up her veil and screams in horror, then waits downstairs while she workmen hammer her coffins.
Emma’s physiological decay, her transformation from person to matter, is natural and realistic. At the same time, it is viciously symbolically charged. That symbolism is crystallized in Emma’s literary successor, Oscar Wilde's Dorian Grey from The Picture of Dorian Grey, whose death reveals both his physical and his spiritual ugliness – whose death finally aligns the one with the other.
Themes
Causes, Appearances, and Boredom Theme Icon