Sentimental Education - Part Two, Chapters 3 and 4 Summary & Analysis

Gustave Flaubert and Mary Ruefle
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Part Two, Chapters 3 and 4 Summary

Frederic spends his spare time with the Arnoux's. He discovers that their marriage is falling apart. In private, he both encourages them to leave each other. Jacques's financial position is becoming desperate; he is taking more risks and losing more money. As the risk that Jacques will lose the things he values increases, he grows kinder towards Marie, which makes Frederic feel guilty for the bad blood he is introducing into their marriage. Because Jacques desires to keep Marie, he tells her that Frederic and Rosanette are together, instead of he and Rosanette. Marie confronts Frederic about this but he denies it vehemently.

Next, Frederic becomes torn between two financial promises. Charles wants to borrow some money so that he can buy Hussonnett's periodical. It becomes clear later in the chapter that Senecal's socialist ideology has influenced Charles and that he is interested in a democratic revolution; Frederic promises him the money. However, Jacques later requests the same amount from Frederic in order to keep his factory and Frederic, apparently out of guilt, obliges. He lies to Charles and tells him that he doesn't have the money; he later lies again, telling Charles that he lost the money gambling. Charles is furious and ends their association. Frederic is stressed, torn between dramatic situations. He has long forgotten his law studies and his art, illustrations of his inability to finish projects once he starts them; but he still sets himself to writing a history of the renaissance, which he probably will never finish. While he is working, Marie visits him and discloses their financial difficulties. She wants him to speak to Monsieur Dambreuse - the man to whom Jacques is indebted - and persuade him to let Jacques delay payment. Frederic, out of sympathy for them both, decides to oblige her and successfully convinces Dambreuse to delay asking to be paid back. For whatever reason, Marie does not display much gratitude. During this conversation, the Monsieur presents Frederic with the opportunity to be secretary in a new national coal company that he is running. He also encourages Frederic to invest and Frederic agrees. This job is a great opportunity for Frederic, a stepping-stone to greater things. However, when the day comes to accept the job and invest the money, he runs after Marie, who is at Jacques's factory in the countryside. Initially, he cannot find Jacques's factory, ultimately discovering it further in the country and in an awful condition. He finds Marie partially undressed. He attempts to flatter her and then continuously attempts to subtly confess his feelings for her. She catches on and stridently rebuffs him. He leaves, embarrassed and furious. He seeks revenge by contacting Rosanette.

Frederic accompanies Rosanette publicly to a race, but she is bawdy and obnoxious, humiliating him; however, he still wants to be her lover in part to get revenge on Marie. Frederic and Rosanette run into Hussonnett and Cisy at the race; Cisy is acting gaudy and lurid. They greet Rosanette, as do many other men, making her appear whorish. Rosanette spots Marie and calls out to her, further upsetting Frederic. Frederic continues the outing by taking Rosanette to dinner where they run into Hussonnett and Cisy again. Cisy flirts with Rosanette and infuriates Frederic by taking her home. This is the third time Frederic has been humiliated in a single night. However, Hussonnett stays and discusses the periodical; but Frederic is distracted. Hussonnett sticks him with the bill and Frederic feels slighted by everyone he knows. He then makes yet another vow, this time to get rich to spite everyone.

A few days later, Pellerin goes to meet Frederic to get him to pay for the portrait he commissioned for Rosanette. She has refused to pay for it, as has Jacques, but Frederic, embarrassed as he is by Rosanette, will not pay either. Pellerin is furious. Then Senecal shows up, and appears more prominent and noble than before. Jacques fires him (perhaps from suspecting him, perhaps due to his rabble-rousing) for which Senecal blames Frederic. Frederic is able to sell a farm he owns to get the money to invest in the coal company. He later discovers that Rosanette dismissed Cisy after a single night from Hussonett and Frederic runs into Cisy later that day. Cisy asks Frederic to come to dinner with him. As Frederic prepares for dinner he realizes that Jacques will not repay him. At dinner, Cisy displays his wealth prominently; Frederic despises him. A friend congratulates Cisy on going home with Rosanette but Cisy is embarrassed, in part because she rejected him and in part because Jacques found out. His friend basically implies that everyone has slept with Rosanette; Frederic is embarrassed because he can't seem to attract her, so he makes a feeble attempt to argue that she is not completely whorish, but everyone laughs at him. The next topic of dinner conversation is the sneaky dealings of Jacques, but Frederic stands up for him; Cisy claims that Jacques has only one asset of value - Marie - but he suggests that Marie is as loose as Rosanette; Frederic has been embarrassed by Cisy for the last time, becoming enraged. He throws one of the dinner plates at Cisy and storms out. He asks Regimbart about what his next course of action should be and Regimbart advises him to challenge Cisy to a duel; so Frederic does just that. At the duel, Cisy faints. When he wakes up and starts the fight again, Jacques stops then and thanks Frederic for defending Marie's reputation.

Senecal is arrested on the charge that he was engaged in an anti-government conspiracy. Dussardier, who has recently been growing closer to Frederic, informs Frederic and the two decide to defend him. Frederic researches newspapers for information on Senecal's whereabouts and finds a piece in Hussonnet's periodical mocking the duel he had with Cisy (however, names are not mentioned). Later he sees the portrait of Rosanette in Pellerin's shop window. Pellerin, because of his anger with Frederic, had a sign pointing out the Frederic was the owner. These two events threaten to ruin Frederic's reputation. He seeks to maintain his reputation by visiting the Dambreuses but they mock him as well, or at least they appear to from his perspective. Later, Frederic and Charles make up on Dussardier's urging and Frederic shares the news of the new job, which may not still be available. Some time later, Frederic receives a note from his mother; she wants Frederic to get married. Apparently Louise, Roque's daughter, is now of age. Of course, Madame Moreau wants Frederic to marry Louise to get money. And Frederic recently lost a large sum of money in a bad investment, so he considers this option. He returns to Nogent, where his mother lives, and gets to know Louise. He thinks over the option of marrying her.

Part Two, Chapters 3 and 4 Analysis

Chapters 3 and 4 display the overreach of Frederic's confidence. He is sure that he can gain Marie's heart but he is also looking for a trophy mistress to display his new wealth. He finds Rosanette hard to master, however, and she embarrasses him repeatedly. Marie proves hard to openly communicate with about Frederic's affection, and when Frederic subtly tells her that he is interested, she rejects him on the spot. He pursues Rosanette as revenge. He overreaches in his relationships as well, promising money to multiple people, a behavior that ruins his relationship with Charles, at least for a time. He attempts to pit Marie and Jacques against one another, but this meets with little success. And while things appear to be going well for him with the Dambreuses, they eventually mock him. Further, Pellerin and Senecal blame him for their misfortune, Hussonett mocks him over his duel with Cisy and Cisy goes out of his way to embarrass Frederic on numerous occasions. Finally, he overreaches financially. He invests too much money and ends up losing a great sum of it, so much so that he must reduce his income and consider marrying Roque's daughter Louise in order to inherit more money. All of this overreach significantly damages Frederic's reputation; he is widely rumored to be Rosanette's lover and is involved in a subtle emotional tryst with Jacques and Marie. Things look bad for Frederic.

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