Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 510
Every Thursday morning, Emma gets up early and rushes to get ready to meet the coach to Rouen. She is always the first passenger to arrive. When it is time to leave, she takes her seat eagerly and watches out the window for the landmarks along the route.
Emma and Léon meet at the same hotel room every week. Inside their room, they hug and kiss eagerly. Then they tell each other everything that has happened to them since they last saw each other. After that, they retire to the bed. They enjoy every moment they spend together until they are forced to return to their normal lives.
Emma’s trip home is never as exciting as her trip to Rouen. On the way, she always feels sad and dreary. She watches the commuters around her fall asleep, and she sits all alone, feeling cold “like death.” When she arrives home, she is always in a terrible mood.
Soon Emma cannot imagine giving up her Thursdays with Léon. She finds it necessary to craft increasingly elaborate lies to keep her affair a secret. For example, she makes up fake receipts for her piano lessons and leaves them, as if accidentally, where Charles will find them. As she gains practice at lying, it becomes second nature to her.
One day, Monsieur Lheureux asks Emma to pay off some of the money she owes at his shop. She has no money, so he casually suggests that she sell a small property that Charles inherited from his father. She makes this sale with Monsieur Lheureux’s help and offers him all the money to pay her bill. Instead of taking the payment, he manipulates her into borrowing more money at a higher rate of interest than before.
Emma is suddenly flush with cash, which she spends on furnishings for her home and excursions with Léon. After that, she borrows more from Monsieur Lheureux whenever she pleases. She soon finds herself “getting a little mixed up in her arithmetic.” She cannot figure out exactly how much she owes, so she puts the whole issue out of her head. Charles remains almost totally ignorant of what she is doing.
As Emma grows freer with her money, she also grows freer about taking risks with Léon. One Thursday, she stays the night in Rouen instead of returning home to her husband. Charles grows worried and rushes out to look for her. When he finds her on Friday morning, she lies and says she suddenly took ill. He asks for details, and she acts annoyed that he is making a fuss. After that, she stays the night in Rouen fairly often.
Léon, for his part, is scandalized to see how much money Emma spends. But when he suggests prudence, she makes fun of him and bullies him into doing what she wants. He almost always gives in to her, even when it interferes with his career and his morals. Her “depravity” is extreme, and he often wonders what made her this way.
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