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Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 3 months ago












The Hirondelle is the most mentioned transportation vehicle in the novel. It is an old, yellow-colored Stagecoach with four benches on the inside, and places for people to sit on its outside.

Coaches in general have a heavy body suspended on springs and equipped with side doors and front and rear benches; a roof which forms part of the body; and an elevated seat that  the driver uses, which is attached to the front of the body. Coaches were used for transporting passengers and goods.

For the Hirondelle here in particular, its driver is "Hivert" and it carried people daily from Yonville to Rouen and back. It left Yonville early every morning and arrived back to Yonville at 6 pm.



Quick Facts


  • Capacity: 8+people


  • Average Speed: 4 miles per hour


  • Power: 4 horses


  • Cost:$1200 to $1500 back in the 19th century, or about $25,000 now



Literary Analysis of Its Significance


"Hirondelle" is the french word for a type of bird called a  "Swallow". Swallows are excellent fliers that can easily fly upwards of 24 miles per hour. Now to use this name to refer to a very old, slow vehicle is somewhat ironic as the name represents everything the actual vehicle is not. Hirondelles are light, fast, nice looking birds which can travel long distances without worrying about food or getting tired. On the other hand, this vehicle portrayed here is quite heavy and old; when it gets to a steep hill, some passengers have to get off and walk in order for it to make it, and the horses that pull it are not of the best breed.

The name of the driver also has some significance. Hivert, without the "t" at the end, in french means "Winter". "Swallows" are migratory birds which emigrate every winter towards more warm territory.It has also been noted in the research that in the drafts, Flaubert usually writes "Hiver" without the "t" when referring to the driver. This might mean that both the vehicle and the driver are meant to imply the discontent that Emma and the people of Yonville feel with their lives and their longing for a better situation.




Occurences in the Novel




Part 3 Ch. 4

    "He took his dinner in the small dining room, just as in the old days, but alone, without the tax collector: for Binet, sick of waiting for the Hirondelle, had permanently changed his mealtime to an hour earlier, and now dined on the stroke of five. Even so he never missed a chance to grumble that "the rusty old clock was slow"  (Pg 305)
Part 3 Ch. 5
    "The Hirondelle set off at a gentle trot, and for the first mile or two kept stopping here and there to take on passengers who stood watching for it along the road, outside their gates. Those who had booked seats the day before kept the coach waiting: some, even, were still in their beds and Hivert would call, shout, curse, and finally get down from his seat and pound on the doors. The wind whistled in through the cracked blinds.
    Gradually the four benches filled up, the coach rattled along, row upon row of apple trees flashed by; and the road, lined on each side by a ditch of yellow water, stretched on and on, narrowing toward the horizon.
    Emma knew every inch of it: she knew that after a certain meadow came a road sign, then an elm, a barn, or a roadmender's cabin; sometimes she even shut her eyes, trying to give herself a surprise. But she always knew just how much farther there was to go.
    Finally the brick houses crowded closer together, the road rang under the wheels, and now the Hirondelle moved smoothly between gardens: through iron fences were glimpses of statues, artificial mounds crowned by arbors, clipping yews, a swing. Then, all at onces, the city came into view." (Pg 310)
Part 3 Ch. 7


"...when she reached the Croix-Rough, to see the good old Monsieur Homais. He was watching a case of pharmaceutical supplies being loaded onto the Hirondelle, and in his hand he carried a present for his wife--six cheminots wrapped in a foulard handkerchief" (Pg 352)
Part 3 Ch. 9
    "At six o'clock there was a clanking in the square. It was the Hirondelle arriving, and he stood with his head against the windowpanes, watching all the passengers get out, one after the other. Felicite put down a mattress for him in the parlor, and he threw himself on it and fell asleep" (Pg 387)
Part 3 Ch. 11


    "The blind man, whom his salve had not cured, had resumed his beat on the hill at Bois-Guillaume, where he told everyone about the pharmacist's failure--to such a point that Homais, whenever he went to the city, hid behind the Hirondelle's curtains to avoid meeting him face to face. He hated him. He must get rid of him at all costs, he decided, for the sake of his own reputation; and he launched an underhand campaign against him in which he revealed his deep cunning and his criminal vanity..." (Pg 404)


Days of operation of the Hirondelle


                            "Every day for a month Hivert transported for him, from Yonville to Rouen and from Rouen to Yonville, trunks, valises and bundles.  And after Leon

                        had had his wardrobe restocked and his three armchairs reupholstered and had  bought a whole new supply of foulard handkerchiefs, after he

                        had made more preparations than for a trip around the world, he kept putting off his departure from week to week, until he received a second letter from

                        his mother urging him to be on his way, since he wanted to pass his examination before the  summer vacation."(Pg xxx)

                        --This shows that the hirondelle is operational seven days a week        




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