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THE CHARACTERS (continued)


The town priest of Yonville, Father Bournisien has a one-dimensional sense of the needs of his parishioners. When Emma goes to him, desperate for help, he can barely understand what she's saying. He insensitively interrupts her plea for help by telling her that he just cured a sick cow. Bournisien represents the corruption of religious values in middle-class society, and in this sense he resembles Homais, with whom he has hilarious arguments.


The tax-collector of Yonville, Binet is the fourth-and dullest-of the middle-class types whom Flaubert portrays. His main occupation is to turn out napkin rings on his lathe, a meaningless occupation since he never uses them for anything. They just pile up around his house. Flaubert uses the background noise of Binet's lathe, however, to symbolize the meaninglessness of middle-class life. Its droning sound can be heard when Emma receives the letter from Rodolphe that ends their affair, a signal of the monotonous future that looms ahead.


She has suffered for many years because of her husband's infidelities and alcoholism and she takes her frustrations out on her son, trying to guide and dominate his life. At first, she arranges his marriage to Heloise Dubuc, but when Heloise dies and Charles marries Emma, her power over Charles fades. Every time she visits the Bovary household, she and Emma argue, forcing Charles to take sides. Eventually he sides with his wife, and Madame Bovary, Senior, is driven from the picture.


After he's forced to leave his position as a doctor's assistant in the army, he retires to the country with his wife and son. An unfaithful husband and an alcoholic, he raises Charles strictly, but has no real love for him.


Homais' nephew, Justin is also his assistant at the pharmacy. Justin is the same age-fifteen or sixteen-as Charles was at the start of the novel. Like Charles, he genuinely loves Emma, and is the only other character in the book who sincerely mourns her death. His role is both tragic and ironic, since it's Justin who shows Emma where to find the arsenic.


As Emma's maid, Felicite is probably aware of her mistress' infidelities. After Emma dies, she flees Charles' house with her lover and most of Emma's wardrobe.


Canivet is a doctor from a nearby town whom Charles consults during the operation on the stable boy's clubfoot. Canivet later appears with Doctor Lariviere and tries to save Emma's life. He's only slightly more competent than Charles himself, but nonetheless treats Charles as an inferior.


A doctor of great reputation, his character was probably modeled after Flaubert's father. He arrives in Yonville when Emma is dying, but is too late to save her. Though he appears only briefly at the end of the novel, he's one of the few characters with integrity.


Rouault, Emma's father, is genuinely affected by the death of his wife. A sentimental man, he sends the Bovarys a turkey every year to mark the anniversary of their meeting. At the end, he's too upset by his daughter's death to see his granddaughter, Berthe.


Charles and Emma's daughter is left in her aunt's care when her parents die. The aunt eventually puts Berthe to work in a cotton mill to earn her living.


The stable boy at the Lion d'Or, he allows Charles to perform an experimental operation on his clubfoot. As a result of the disastrous operation, his leg must be amputated.

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