Sentimental Education Characters

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 1,136 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)

Frederic Moreau

Frederic Moreau is the main character of Sentimental Education. He begins the book melancholy and unhappy. After receiving a small inheritance, he moves to France to study to become a lawyer, but he becomes distracted with writing, his friends and his desire for Marie Arnoux. Frederic's main animating interest throughout the first half of the book is his obsession with Marie. He befriends Jacques, her husband, just to get close to her; but when he finally gets close enough to confess his feelings, she rejects him. Frederic inherits a great deal of money towards the middle of the book and uses his new wealth to enter high society, which embroils him in intrigue. At one point, he has four love interests - a relationship with Rosanette, an affair with Madame Dambreuse, a paused marriage plan to Louise Roque and his continuing romantic attachment to Marie Arnoux. Towards the end of the book, he ends his relationships with Rosanette and Madame Dambreuse, and finds out that his best friend is marrying Louise. Some years later, when he encounters Marie again, he rejects her because she has aged.

Frederic is a romantic but he is never satisfied with what he has. Just as he is about to accomplish one of his goals, he drops it and turns to something else. Frederic, almost by constitution, is indecisive and unable to make firm, honest life choices. Instead, he appears to prefer to have his cake and eat it too, never making a decision about what to give up and what to gain. As a result, he causes a great deal of suffering within his social circle and by the end of the book is alone.

Madame Marie Arnoux

Madame Marie Arnoux is the wife of Jacques Arnoux and the mother of two. She is a beautiful woman with a mild and kind manner; she mostly keeps to herself and stays aloof from various social conflicts. She is also Frederic's central love interest throughout Sentimental Education. For the first half of the book, he pursues her in any way that he can, particularly by developing a close friendship with Jacques and spending as much time as he can with them. He even exposes Jacques' affairs with Rosanette to Marie in order to split them up and he subsequently continues to fan the flames of their estrangement. Marie rejects Frederic's advances. She appears to have some faith in the sanctity of marriage and will not cheat on Jacques despite his affairs.

Nonetheless, Frederic's advances cause her to fall in love with him, and while they confess their love for each other, she will not start a romantic relationship with him. When Frederic gets frustrated and starts a relationship with Rosanette to punish her, Marie is hurt. Marie continues to float in and out of the storyline, as Frederic develops multiple love interests in addition to hers. She is also brought down by Jacques's various embarrassing financial decisions and poor reputation, which eventually forces them to leave the city, an event that Frederic cannot prevent. Years later, Marie comes to visit Frederic and finally confesses her love to him. She has waited a very long time, but when Frederic sees her white hair, he rejects her, and it is with this that the story's main plot climaxes.

Charles Deslauriers

Frederic's closest friend. He starts off loyal and attempts to keep Frederic happy despite his attachment to Marie. Over time, however, he comes to envy Frederic's life and often tries to usurp it, first by pursuing a relationship with Marie, then by entering politics and finally by marrying Louise. He has a falling out with Frederic, but they reconcile and end the book as friends.

Monsieur Jacques Arnoux

Jacques is Marie's husband and Frederic's friend throughout much of the book. He brings Frederic into high society and shares his secrets with him; oddly, he does not notice Frederic's attachment to his wife. Jacques also pursues affairs with other women, most notoriously with Rosanette. He originally sells art, but later gets involved in industry, and it does not go well.

Madame Moureau

Frederic's mother, who is always encouraging him to find money and marry well.

Rosanette

Originally Jacques's lover, she later becomes Frederic's lover instead. They conceive a son together, but the child dies. They spend some happy days together in the country, but when Rosanette attempts to send Jacques to the poorhouse with a lawsuit, Frederic believes that she is doing so to punish him for loving Marie. He ends their relationship.

Senecal

A mathematics teacher and socialist activist who later becomes an oppressive member of the state.

Baptiste Martinon

A law school acquaintance of Frederic's, and is a member of the Parisian upper class. He ends up a rich senator, not only through getting elected to the general assembly but by marrying Cecile, Monsieur Dambreuse's illegitimate daughter.

Pellerin

Pellerin starts the book off as a 'starving artist' but eventually rises to become a prominent painter and later a photographer. He has falling outs with both Jacques and Frederic.

Hussonnet

Hussonnet takes over Jacques's art magazine and converts it into a political periodical. He is also involved in politics.

Louise Roque

Roque's daughter and heir to his fortune. She is infatuated with Frederic from a young age, but when he rejects her, she marries Charles.

Monsieur Roque

A friend of Madame Moureau, he comes into money and his daughter Louise becomes an important prize. He wants Frederic to marry her, but when Frederic hesitates, he allows Charles to do so instead.

Cecile

Monsieur Dambreuse's illegitimate daughter who later inherits his fortune rather than his wife.

Cisy

A wealthy man and friend of Charles and Frederic. Eventually he provokes Frederic into a duel, but faints before it is completed.

Madame Dambreuse

Monsieur Dambreuse's wife, who loves to host parties and is an intriguing member of high society. She eventually becomes Frederic's lover and fails to inherit her husband's vast fortune. When she tries to ruin the Arnoux's, Frederic ends his relationship with her.

Monsieur Dambreuse

One of the richest men in Paris, owner of a national coal company and a man of 'reactionary' politics, Monsieur Dambreuse offers Frederic several important financial and political opportunities throughout the book.

Dussardier

A political activist who is arrested early in the book. He goes to law school with Charles and Frederic and later is involved in the revolution. Senecal kills him.

Madamoiselle Vantaz

Rosanette's friend who is in love with Delmar. The two often bicker and fight. Vantaz is flighty and unreliable.

Regimbart

Regimbart is one of the other artists in the early part of the book.

Delmar

The object of Vantaz's affection and an actor.

Uncle Barthelemy

Frederic's uncle and very wealthy. He leaves Frederic his fortune, allowing Frederic to enter the French upper class.

This section contains 1,136 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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