Part 3, Chapter 7 Summary

The next day, a debt collector sends two men to take inventory of the Bovarys’ possessions. Emma watches them quietly as they add up the value of her kitchen pots and undergarments. She makes her maid, Félicité, watch for Charles, who has no idea that his wife’s spending has gotten so out of control.

The next day, Emma rushes to Rouen and sees several bankers, but they all refuse to lend her any money. In desperation, she knocks on Léon’s door and begs him to pay her debt for her. She tells him everything, but there is nothing he can do. He does not have such a huge sum of money. Emma demands that he get her a smaller amount, suggesting that he is either weak or uncharitable if he cannot help.

Léon reluctantly goes out and asks a few people for loans, but they refuse. Emma suggests that he steal from his office instead. She seems so desperate that he actually feels tempted. However, he cannot go that far. To put her off, he promises to ask for help from a wealthy friend who is coming to town soon. He says that he will come to her tomorrow by three o’clock to tell her what happens—but inwardly he reflects that he is not going to come.

After this conversation, Emma returns home and sees a crowd standing at her front gate, looking at a notice that says the courts are going to sell off all her possessions. She rushes to the town notary for help. The notary suggests that he will let her have three thousand francs in exchange for sex. Offended at the very idea of this, Emma storms out.

Emma tries to get help from the town tax collector, but he throws her out. After that, she cannot bring herself to go home again. She goes to see Madame Rollet, the nurse who breastfed Berthe in infancy. Emma flings herself on the poor woman’s bed and lies there in despair. Eventually she remembers Léon’s promise to come to her by three o’clock. She sends Madame Rollet to fetch him, but he never appears.

After learning that Léon has failed her, Emma looks for another savior. Eventually she thinks of Rodolphe. He is wealthy, and he has loved her in the past. Surely she can convince him to give her money—especially if she uses her womanly charms to persuade him. She sets out for Rodolphe’s chateau, unaware that she is turning herself into a prostitute.