Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary

Now that it is too late to change her mind, Emma regrets that she did not take action and declare her love for Monsieur Léon. She remembers the good times she had with him, and she sinks into a state of idle depression, as she did after she attended the marquis’s ball near Tostes. In hopes of cheering herself up, she makes extravagant purchases at Monsieur Lheureux’s dry goods store—but even shopping fails to lift her mood.

Desperate for help, Charles invites his mother to come for a visit and look after Emma. The older woman says that Emma should be forced to work. Charles points out that his wife stays busy, but his mother responds with scorn. She says that all Emma does is read novels, an idle behavior which promotes immoral thinking. Charles's mother not only suggests that he forbid his wife from reading such books, but she also personally undertakes the task of canceling Emma’s lending library subscription. Naturally, Emma resents this. The two women are barely speaking by the time Charles’s mother leaves. Soon after the older woman goes, Emma manages to reinstate her library subscription.

One Wednesday—market day in Yonville—the Bovarys receive a visit from a wealthy landowner named Monsieur Rodolphe Boulanger. One of Monsieur Rodolphe’s servants feels ill. Charles bleeds the ailing servant with help from Justin, Monsieur Homais's pharmacy apprentice. The servant and Justin both faint at the sight of the blood. The resulting scene is so chaotic that Emma is called in to help. She has no qualms about blood, and she is graceful and composed as she helps to revive the two fainting victims.

Monsieur Rodolphe is impressed by the doctor’s pretty wife. After he leaves, he reflects on her beauty and style. His impression of Charles is not nearly so favorable. Monsieur Rodolphe, a well-dressed rich man, has had a long series of affairs in his life. He has a talent for figuring out what goes on in women’s minds. He guesses that Emma is bored and unhappy in her relationship, and that she would be easy to seduce:

A compliment or two and she’d adore me, I’m positive. She’d be sweet! But—how would I get rid of her afterward?

This concern does not trouble him long. Monsieur Rodolphe’s current mistress no longer pleases him. Madame Bovary is far prettier and more exciting. He resolves to approach her right away, at the upcoming Agricultural Show.