When the newlyweds arrive in Tostes, Emma takes a tour of Charles’s house, which (we can infer from the tone of the description) seems to her very dowdy. All she can see is dirt and dishevelment. In her new bedroom, she finds Héloïse’s old wedding bouquet, which Charles hurriedly takes to the attic. In the course of the next few days, she redecorates the house as much as she can: she changes the wallpaper and the candle shades, paints the walls, and puts benches in the small garden. To please her, Charles buys her a used carriage.
Here, and throughout the book, Flaubert conveys the preoccupations of the characters by describing only the aspects of their lives that are important, and, therefore, visible to them. As with the ceremony, Emma’s primary concern is appearances. She is lucid and opinionated about the color of the walls, but she seems quite vague about the actual life taking place between them.
Charles is infatuated with Emma and feels nothing but perfect bliss. He is in love, he is sexually gratified, and he thinks himself the happiest he has ever been. He loves all her small gestures and delicacies, and he can hardly stand to leave the house. Emma, on the other hand, quickly realizes that since she is not happy, she must not be in love. She has read about the various joys of love in novels, and she is determined to experience them herself.
Charles, on the other hand, is blind to things like wallpaper. He is in love with Emma, and all his attention is on her. Emma does not seem to see Charles. She sees only herself, her joys and disappointments. Love, for her, is not a strong feeling toward another person; it is a self-contained, self-directed happiness or the achievement of an ideal received from books.