Sentimental Education - Chapters 1 and 2 Summary & Analysis

Gustave Flaubert and Mary Ruefle
This Study Guide consists of approximately 38 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Sentimental Education.
This section contains 622 words
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Chapters 1 and 2 Summary

The book opens with the main character, Frederic Moreau, gazing at a beautiful Parisian scene. However, his mood is melancholy; Frederic is traveling home by ship in order to study law and live with family, in Nogent-sur-Seine. On the ship, Frederic observes many people, but a man holding a young girl catches his eye; he strikes up a conversation with the man, who is named Jacques Arnoux. Arnoux, it turns out, is rather wealthy, and runs an art magazine. Their conversation is interrupted, however, so Frederic returns to people-watching. He is then mesmerized by a woman seated ahead of him in first-class; she is beautiful, with dark, smooth skin, beautiful clothing and petite facial features. He finds an excuse to speak to her, but only briefly, as Jacques Arnoux comes back with a small child; Frederic then finds out, sadly, that the woman is Marie Arnoux, Jacques's wife. Despite this, Frederic finds the Arnoux's fascinating and stays with them. Much to his delight, the Arnoux's ask him to accompany them to the bar downstairs in the ship. Frederic continues to be drawn to Madame Arnoux, sitting near her and trying to avoid staring at her. He finds himself developing a romantic attachment to her, and decides that he will do what he can to spend more time with the Arnoux family because of this. Frederic arrives home, where friends and family are happy to see him. His mother, Madame Moreau, is pleased to have Frederic home and believes that he has a wonderful destiny; but Frederic is distracted with thoughts of Marie. After dinner, he decides to see his good friend Charles Deslauriers.

Chapter 2 finds Frederic getting reacquainted with his old friend Charles Deslauriers. Charles's father was not a kind man, often verbally abusing him. But he sent Charles to the school in Sens that Frederic attended. In Sens Frederic and Charles became friends. Both found their scholarly interests - Frederic in literature and art, Charles in metaphysics. Their when they left school was to live together in Paris and pursue the typical young male's rich Parisian man's dream - art and women. However, Madame Moreau sent Frederic away to visit family, in part because she thought Charles was a bad influence .

Frederic is upset to learn that Charles will not live in Paris with him. Frederic shares with Charles his new obsession with Marie Arnoux, and Charles encourages him not to give up.They meet Monsieur Roque, a servant of Monsieur Dambreuse; Roque lives with his housekeeper, earning the opprobrium of his community, but he remains friends with Frederic's mother. Charles encourages Frederic to sleep with Dambreuse's wife, and to use Roque to form the necessary relationships; Charles also tells Frederic to take his studies seriously and that he will return to Paris at some point in the new future.

Chapters 1 and 2 Analysis

The first two chapters introduce Sentimental Education's most of the main characters, the setting and the main plot. Three of the main characters are Frederic Moreau, Madame Marie Arnoux and Charles Deslauriers, although the story tracks events and thoughts in Frederic's life. The setting of the book is in Paris, within the small community of bourgeois figures in a subset of the Parisian social scene. This is a time of political upheaval, with the young French intellectuals opposing the mid-19th century king of France, Louis Philippe. The young intellectuals consider themselves 'republicans' or defenders of a more democratic political order. Eventually the young French rebels will create the second republic. Thus, republican ideals arise in the book. The main plot, however, does not initially appear political. Instead, it focuses on Frederic's obsession with Madame Arnoux and his pursuit of her.

This section contains 622 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Sentimental Education from BookRags. (c)2017 BookRags, Inc. All rights reserved.
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