Sentimental Education - Chapters 5 - 7 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.
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Chapters 5 - 7 Summary

Chapter 5 begins with Frederic rushing to find Marie. He borrows the money he needs from Madame Dambruese and lies about the reason. The Arnoux's have left their house; Frederic tracks down Regimbart who tells him that they have left town. Frederic, upset, returns home to Rosanette, who is crying at the portrait of her dead son. Frederic joins her in tears; however, he is crying for Marie. Later, Regimbart tells the Madame that Frederic lied to her about the money; she vows revenge and does not confront Frederic about it. Instead, she invites Charles to consult her about collecting on debts from Jacques and Marie to further impoverish them; Charles obliges in part because Marie had embarrassed him for rejecting him. They settle on running a debt auction, through which Charles will buy the debts and sue Jacques and Marie. Weeks later, Frederic finds that the Arnoux's assets are being liquidated and that Senecal is behind this. He believes that Rosanette is behind the sale; she denies this but in a rage he decides to leave her. He becomes exclusive with Madame Dambruese, but when he sees her eagerly purchasing Marie's things, he realizes that she was behind the action; then then ends their relationship. Frederic next travels to Nogent to marry Louise, but she is marrying Charles. Frederic leaves Nogent with no one, bringing his love life to a close. Frederic witnesses political skirmish in the street where Senecal kills Dussardier.

Chapter 6 beings the denouement but gives us one final plot event. After years of torrid affairs and unemployment, Frederic is surprised to find Marie at his door. He feels his love for her return; she confesses her love to him and they talk about their halcyon days, but when they return from an outing, Marie removes her hat; her hair is white from the stress of the last years. Frederic's interest in her evaporates instantly and he rejects her overtures. When the conversation is over, she departs; they never see each other again.

Chapter 7 is the true denouement. Charles and Frederic have reconciled. They revisit the fates of the main characters. After many occupations and ideological flirtations, Pellerin has taken up photography. Cisy is the father of eight. Senecal is nowhere to be found. Jacques has died and Marie and her son live in Rome. Hussonett controls both the playhouses and news media in Paris, and Martinon won a seat in the senate. Madame Dambreuse has left France to live with her husband, an Englishman, and Louise left Charles to live with a well-known singer. Charles confesses to a brief affair with Rosanette, which Frederic tries to ignore, but Charles tells Frederic that he saw Rosanette with her adopted child in a store and reports that she is now overweight. Charles tells Frederic about the Calf's head secret society; it is composed of the remaining party of revolution. The two continue to speak of the past and recall an outing together where they visit a whorehouse. However, Frederic becomes frightened and they quickly flee. Charles and Frederic decide that this was the high point of their lives.

Chapters 5 - 7 Analysis

In a flash, all four of Frederic's love interests evaporate. In part due to his role in Jacques's debts and his own indiscretions, Rosanette and Madame Dambreuse financially ruin the Arnoux's, which leads Marie to leave the city. Frederic blames Rosanette and ends their relationship; when he discovers Madame Dambreuse's role in Marie's departure, he leaves her too. He then quickly tries to salvage his relationship with Louise, but Charles has worked his way into her and Roque's heart and they marry. Marie, Rosanette, Madame Dambreuse and Louise are all gone. Frederic's indecisiveness and social climbing has left him with nothing. The great tragedy of his personality is that he seems constitutionally incapable of happiness. Even when Marie visits him years later and offers him the chance to be with her, finally, after years and years of loving her, he rejects her when he sees her white hair. Even when his heart's desire is at his doorstep, he rejects it for something else. Frederic wants only what he cannot have, and ends up with no lover at all.

These events wrap up the book, which now appears to be the tragic story of a man and a community so socially dysfunctional that everyone ends up unhappy or dead. And Frederic is at the center of all the misery. This, in many ways, parallels the tragedy of the second republic of France, which everyone realizes is no better than the monarchy. After the revolution, friends turned on friends, allies on allies and now the people are no freer than they were before. The revolution was also full of indecisive ideas and collapsed into fights and pathetic regret. It becomes clear to the reader towards the end that Frederic is not merely a French upperclassman that cannot find happiness, but is a symbol of the tragedy of mid-19th century French political reform. It starts without hope, rises to power and glory, but it is plagued by internal contradictions and an unstable foundation, which leads inevitably to its collapse, just like the stretch of Frederic's life as described in Sentimental Education.

This section contains 878 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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