Sentimental Education - Part Two, Chapters 5 and 6 Summary & Analysis

Gustave Flaubert and Mary Ruefle
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Part Two, Chapters 5 and 6 Summary

Frederic is in retreat. He is spending a lot of time in Nogent getting to know Louise. In Frederic's absence, several strange things happen. First, Charles looks over some of Frederic's documents and learns more about the job with Dambreuse. He decides that he should take up Frederic's life - both his job and his relationship with Marie. He confronts Marie, tells her that she loves him and she laughs in his face. In the meanwhile, Louise tells Frederic that she is in love with him, asks him to marry her and he agrees. Word of their marriage reaches Charles and when Marie rejects him, he tells her that Frederic is getting married. Surprisingly, this upsets her. We discover, finally, that Marie is in love with Frederic, as she comes to this realization only in the pages of Part Two, Chapter 5. While in Nogent, Frederic receives three letters. Charles writes him and wants him to stay in Nogent; Rosanette wants a loan from him and Monsieur Dambreuse requests that he come back to Paris to dine with him. These letters set up the events of the next chapter.

Frederic returns to Paris and finds himself torn. He cannot marry Louise, as this will make him appear in financial trouble. However, he does want to marry her to get Roque's money. Mademoiselle Vatnaz comes over to his mansion and gossips with him; she tells him that she is in love with Delmar and that Rosanette is dating the wealthy Prince Tzernoukoff. Frederic lends Rosanette the money she needs, but she only wanted to run off with her to sea; Frederic finds this prospect daunting because he would have to avoid retribution from Tzernoukoff. Frederic runs into Marie a few days later but nothing comes of their conversation. Frederic also visits Charles, who informs him that Marie was upset when she heard about his impending marriage; Charles also tells Frederic that Senecal is free and that Dussardier is holding a social gathering in his honor. The party is very political. The republican forces are gaining power and swaying public opinion. The crown has responded by cracking down on republican intellectuals and protests. This has bred unrest. Hussonnet appears at the party and does not mention the attack made on him. Charles and Dussardier persuade Frederic to buy Rosanette's portrait from Pellerin. Frederic makes his decision not to accept the job at the coal company.

On an errand to procure two statues for Louis, he runs into Marie; she is quite unhappy about his marriage and his relationship with Rosanette. He denies both charges; he tells her that he is in love with her, kisses her on the eyelids and promises her that he will not marry Louise. Marie is overjoyed, which leads Frederic to get excited and overreach his expression of love for her; she becomes frightened and asks him to leave. However, he sees her often thereafter and while they avoid sexual intimacy they often speak of a building a life as a couple. Frederic is eager to have her for his mistress and often gets frustrated at her recalcitrance; he resents her and plots a scheme to take her to an apartment and has sex with her. But it turns out that her son Eugene is very sick; she does not come to their rendezvous because he appears near death. When he recovers, she interprets it as a sign that her relationship with Frederic must end. Political tensions continue to flare; revolution is around the corner. Frederic is distraught by Marie's behavior and returns to Rosanette. They make love.

Part Two, Chapters 5 and 6 Analysis

Chapters 5 and 6 bring much of the emotional drama in Sentimental Education to its climax. Frederic is nearly ready to decide on who his wife and/or mistress will be. Initially he wants it to be Louise, in order to gain her father's fortune. However, if he marries her he will reveal his financial weakness to the Parisian upper class. Charles tells him that Marie was upset to learn about his impending marriage, and this causes him to turn from Louise back to Marie. He confesses his love to her and she does the same to him; he is incredibly happy. They spend a lot of time alone together but do not consummate their relationship. As time progresses, Frederic grows restless and attempts to sleep with her, but Marie ends their association when her son Eugene's sickness convinces her that she should end the illicit relationship with Frederic. This causes Frederic to become enraged and sleep with Rosanette to get back at her. He seems to have settled on Rosanette towards the end of Part II but this is not clear.

Here we see Frederic at his most indecisive. Throughout the book, Frederic has taken on commitments he never completes, made promises that he could not honor, dreamed dreams he would never fulfill and make vows he would never honor. Now it is time for him to choose a companion and he simply cannot make up his mind, running between three women in the two chapters. This illustrates Frederic's inability to choose and reveals a certain kind of immaturity.

These events take place against the backdrop of an impending political revolution. The monarchy of King Philippe is falling apart and will be replaced by the Second French Republic. Political revolution in the story seems to track the sordid events of Frederic's life. At the beginning of the book, the revolution is only a dream, and as the book progresses protests erupt randomly. But these protests do not have a focus, much as Frederic lacks focus. Finally, the protests and new ideas are coming to a head, just as the conflict in Frederic's life is doing the same.

This section contains 971 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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