The next day, while Charles is out, the bailiff and two other men take inventory of the Bovary house. Emma travels to Rouen the following morning to try 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 to get him to steal from his office, so he puts her off with a false promise and leaves.
Emma has always been spiritually alone in the world, because she has never quite been able to believe in the emotions of other people. Her spiritual aloneness has now led to actual desolation: an overtly moralized decline. Flaubert wants to punish her.
Homais rides the coach back to Yonville with Emma. They see the beggar with the infected eyelids, and Homais prescribes him expensive foods and remedies, and promises to make him a special ointment. The man howls hungrily in response.
Everything in the novel is gathering intensity. Homais’s overt hypocrisy, in this scene, is almost a parody. He is obviously trying to seem virtuous without any intent of doing good.
The next morning, Emma notices a sign announcing that her things are to be auctioned off. Her maid advises her to see the town lawyer, Guillaumin, and Emma goes right away. At the sight of his well-appointed house, she feels a pang of righteous anger: “Here is the kind of dining room … that I should have.” After listening to her for a long time, Guillaumin implies that he will give her money if she sleeps with him, and she leaves in a huff, proud and angry.
Emma defines herself by her appearance – her beauty, elegance, graceful manners, and propriety. She may have disgraced herself quite often in private, but she has taken care to maintain her looks and social status. Even though that status is crumbling, she is clinging to the quality of her appearance, and believes herself pure and deserving on the basis of it.
She comes home and imagines Charles’s reaction to the auction. She knows he will forgive her, and “the idea of [his] superiority [is] exasperating to her.” She tries to offer herself to Binet in exchange for the money, but he refuses. Finally she decides to try to get the money from Rodolphe, “oblivious from first to last of her prostitution.”
It is difficult to say why Emma refuses Guillaumin but propositions Binet. Perhaps she considers her visit to Guillaumin a social call, an occasion that reflects on her appearance, but then reconceives her visit to Binet as a private matter, therefore subject to different rules. Meanwhile, she continues not to recognize reality, that she is offering herself for money. She still sees herself as someone at the ball when in fact her pursuit of that vision has brought her now to prostituting herself.