Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews February 28, 2024
February 21, 2024
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Compare and contrast Frédéric’s relationship
with Arnoux with his relationship with Deslauriers.
Frédéric’s relationships with Arnoux and
with Deslauriers are similar in that in each case one man strives
relentlessly to imitate the other, which ultimately leads to betrayal.
Frédéric, from the first time he meets Arnoux, admires him greatly.
Frédéric’s father died before he was born, and Arnoux immediately
steps in as a father figure, giving Frédéric advice in a fatherly
tone. Knowing virtually nothing about Arnoux, Frédéric regards him
with “a certain respect.” This respect eventually deepens into a
blatant imitation. First, Frédéric pursues Madame Arnoux, who is
Arnoux’s wife; when he discovers that Rosanette is Arnoux’s mistress,
he pursues her as well. Frédéric’s juggling of Rosanette and Madame
Dambreuse mirrors Arnoux’s juggling of Rosanette and Madame Arnoux,
and both men undertake their dalliances with a kind of glee. Frédéric
even admits that he feels attracted to him because of their similarities.
Arnoux proves to be a strongly influential force in young Frédéric’s
Frédéric’s relationship with Deslauriers is the reverse
of his relationship with Arnoux: whereas Frédéric followed and copied Arnoux,
he is the one followed and copied by Deslauriers. Deslauriers tries
to win the same women Frédéric has won—Madame Arnoux and Rosanette—but
has little success. However, he succeeds in marrying Louise, stealing
her just at the moment when Frédéric was reconsidering his decision
not to marry her. Deslauriers even considers taking a job for Monsieur
Dambreuse that Frédéric had been tapped for, but in this his conscience
stops him. Deslauriers, whom Frédéric consistently treats abominably,
emulates him out of a kind of spite or revenge. When they are young,
the two men envision a grand life for themselves, and Deslauriers resents
the fact that life has been kinder to Frédéric than to him. Although
the men stay friends, true friendship is possible only when the
women and other social rivals have faded from their lives.
How is Frédéric’s love for Madame
Arnoux connected or similar to his love for Paris?
Frédéric adores both Paris and Madame Arnoux,
but his love of both the city and the woman are capricious, depending
on his state of mind and his perception of his social standing.
For much of the novel, the state of his affairs with Madame Arnoux
dictates how he feels about Paris. When he has a positive interaction
with her or a pleasant sighting, Paris is wonderful, beautiful,
and satisfying. When she ignores him or when he feels discouraged
in his pursuit of her, Paris is bleak, depressing, and ugly. The
ups and downs in Frédéric’s perspective of the city are almost comical,
so closely related they are to his feelings for Madame Arnoux.
Frédéric proves himself to be a fickle lover of Madame
Arnoux and Paris, but both the woman and the city are themselves
fickle lovers of Frédéric. Madame Arnoux, though she offers him
fleeting moments of happiness and returned affection, mostly offers
him angst, disappointment, and struggle. Directly or indirectly,
she disrupts every relationship he has with other women, and he
makes many bad business decisions out of a desire to pursue her.
For better or for worse, Frédéric has given her everything and gotten
little in return. Paris itself has been less than kind in its treatment
of Frédéric. Frédéric, new fortune in hand, comes to Paris with
boundless dreams and an array of ambitions; but his money never
does much for him, he never succeeds at a particular career, and
any political ambitions he has are thwarted. Alone and forced to
live on little money at the end of the novel, he counts as the best
time of his life a time that had nothing to do with Paris—or with
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?
From the beginning of Sentimental
Education, Flaubert casually includes historical references
that mean a great deal to his characters but mean little offhand
to present-day readers. For example, Madame Moreau prefers not to
hear criticism of the government, and Frédéric is asked what he
thinks of Madame Lafarge. Although readers in Flaubert’s time certainly
understood the meanings and implications of these and other references,
Flaubert included them as a way of rooting his story firmly into
its place and time: France, in the mid-1800s,
on the cusp of the revolution of 1848. Without checking
the endnotes or consulting Google, we get a strong sense of the
backdrop to Frédéric and his search for love, a society rife with political
unrest and fervor. Understanding every reference adds a rich historical
layer to the novel, but simply noting the references themselves
helps us to engage with the novel as a book of its time.
The many convoluted relationships, quickly disappearing
characters, and inside jokes of French society, like the historical
references, paint a vivid picture of the social milieu in which
Frédéric operates. Frédéric is an outsider, a new arrival on the
Paris social scene, with few connections to the bourgeois society
he yearns to join. Flaubert intends to portray this society as full
of intrigue, secrets, and love affairs that only the insiders fully
understand. Frédéric often wonders who is with whom or what a comment
actually means, just as we do; this occasional cloudiness helps
us feel as though we, too, are interlopers in a society in which
we don’t yet really belong. The society crowd in Sentimental
Education, from Frédéric’s perspective, often appears ridiculous,
petty, and shallow, and his outsider’s view allows Flaubert to satirize
this society without having to state his opinions outright. (It
should be said that this novel was a failure in its day, outraging
members of society, who resented the fact that Flaubert painted
them in such an unflattering light.) At many points in Sentimental
Education we feel thrust into a political and social environment
that seems almost impenetrable to us—which is exactly how Frédéric
feels as he attempts to climb the social ladder and make a place
for himself in the city.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Sentimental Education!