Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Compare and contrast Frédéric’s relationship with Arnoux with his relationship with Deslauriers.
2. How is Frédéric’s love for Madame Arnoux connected or similar to his love for Paris?
3. Sentimental Education is full of historical references, in-jokes of French society, relationships that are not always perfectly clear, and characters who often disappear after one mention in the text. What role do these elements play in the novel?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Describe the parallels between the political events surrounding France’s Second Empire and Part Three of Sentimental Education.
2. Choose one character and trace his or her search for love throughout the novel. Who or what does he or she desire? How does he or she go about pursuing this desire?
3. Compare and contrast Rosanette and Madame Arnoux. Why do you think Frédéric is drawn to both women?
4. Explain the relationship between Frédéric and Deslauriers and how it differs from Frédéric’s relationships with women (apart from the sexual element).
5. In what ways are Frédéric and Arnoux alike? Different? How does Arnoux’s fall connect to Frédéric’s fate?
6. Many chapters in Sentimental Education end with one character being separated from another. Explain the role of these goodbyes in the novel.
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