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From Rosanette’s house, Frédéric hears gunshots, and he
goes down to the street. The revolution has reached a climax and
the insurrection is getting stronger. The monarchy of King Philippe
is disintegrating. Frédéric is unmoved by the dead and hurt men
around him. He goes to the Place du Carrousel and joins others who
are storming the palace, which the king has just vacated. He spots
Hussonnet, and the two men go on together. Masses of people begin
streaming into the palace, destroying it as they go. They throw
the throne out the window, and men on the street burn it. Frédéric
and Hussonnet eventually leave and sit in the Tuileries gardens,
watching people go by. Frédéric spots Dussardier, who is fighting
for the cause. He is elated that the Republic has triumphed.
Frédéric tries to visit Deslauriers the next day, but
Deslauriers has left to fulfill his new role as a provincial commissioner.
Frédéric goes to see Rosanette, who approves of the Republic. They
walk together in the city.
One day, Frédéric sees Pellerin marching in the streets,
demanding a new stock exchange that will deal with art. Regimbart,
watching from the crowd, scoffs at the idea and goes on to complain
about the state of France and the reactionaries, who are becoming
more active. People begin to worry about their property.
Dambreuse mourns the fall of the monarchy, since the revolution has
put his fortune in danger. He supported the monarchy and is worried
that his property might be attacked; he believes that Frédéric can
help him. He visits Frédéric and claims to be happy with the Republic.
Dambreuse suggests that Frédéric run for the National Assembly,
hinting that his influence could help him—if Frédéric helps him
one day too. Frédéric grows excited about the idea of running, imagining
himself as a deputy. Frédéric tells the plan to Deslauriers, Mademoiselle
Vatnaz, and Rosanette, all of whom approve. However, Dambreuse is
appalled by the speech Frédéric writes, although he keeps his opinion
Frédéric sets out to deliver his speech in public, at
a forum moderated by Senecal. When Frédéric presents himself as
a candidate, Senecal objects, stating that Frédéric didn’t support
a democratic newspaper. He dismisses Frédéric. Regimbart next approaches
the platform and introduces a patriot from Barcelona, who gives
a speech in Spanish. Frédéric, angry, leaves and goes to Rosanette.
But Rosanette, sitting by a fire and mending a dress, suddenly blames him
for the revolution and the Republic that has resulted.
Mademoiselle Vatnaz and Rosanette argue frequently about
the role of women. Mademoiselle Vatnaz supports a more active role for
women in government and society, whereas Rosanette claims they should
simply marry and have children. But their quarrel is forgotten when
Rosanette sees that Mademoiselle Vatnaz has a gold sheep charm.
This upsets Rosanette, and she reveals that she is in love with
Delmar, who had given the charm to Mademoiselle Vatnaz. She assures
Frédéric that she is simply bemoaning her financial problems since
the prince left and that she really loves him. Rosanette gets a
new apartment that Frédéric helps to furnish. Frédéric spends almost
every night there, but one morning he meets Arnoux on the stairs—he
is apparently still her lover.
Arnoux stops supporting Rosanette financially and now
considers himself her real love. He thinks Frédéric is supporting
her and feels as though he’s playing a trick on Frédéric. He asks
Frédéric questions about why he never visits Madame Arnoux anymore,
and Frédéric lies and says he’s tried but she hasn’t been at home.
Arnoux is actually glad Frédéric has stopped visiting.
One night, Arnoux asks Frédéric to fill in for him at
the guard post. He returns unexpectedly, having just wanted to spend
some time with Rosanette by himself. The men stay at the camp, and Arnoux
sleeps with his gun. Frédéric fantasizes about making the gun go
off so that Arnoux would die.
The next day, Frédéric meets Dambreuse and Martinon on
the street. Dambreuse has just run for election to the Assembly,
which angers Frédéric. But Dambreuse claims he had been forced to
run. Although he had supported the Republic, he was now starting
to try to undermine it. The workers are struggling with poverty,
and the government is asking all young men to join the army or go
work in the country. Unrest is brewing as workers and the bourgeoisie
turn against each other. Dambreuse talks of a new friendship between him
and Arnoux. Later, Frédéric gives Rosanette a choice: him or Arnoux.
Rosanette says she’s not in love with Arnoux.
Frédéric decides that he and Rosanette should leave Paris,
and they go to Fontainebleau. There, they spend a great deal of
time walking around the gardens and forests. Immersed in nature,
their feelings for each other deepen. He learns about Rosanette’s
childhood, and she tells him she tried to kill herself. They move
past this and enjoy their time together.
Frédéric learns that Dussardier has been wounded, and
he wants to leave immediately for Paris. Rosanette tries to stop
him, and he finds her selfish. Once in Paris, it takes Frédéric
a long time to reach Dussardier, as he is treated with suspicion.
When he finally finds him, Mademoiselle Vatnaz is there, nursing
him. Dussardier worries that he is fighting against something that
is just. Meanwhile, the fighting in Paris is worsening. Roque arrives
to join the fighting, and Louise accompanies him, hoping to see
Frédéric. Roque worries himself sick about her.
The Dambreuses invite a large group to their home, including Frédéric,
the Arnouxes, Cisy, Martinon, Monsieur Roque, and Louise. Martinon
asks Monsieur Dambreuse for permission to marry his niece, Mademoiselle
Cecile, although Madame Dambreuse had wanted Cisy to marry her.
It is clear that Martinon is Madame Dambreuse’s lover. Louise is
happy to see Frédéric, who had been avoiding her. The guests discuss
the state of the city and worry about the rebels. They are all happy
to be enjoying their luxuries, which they had feared losing after
the fall of the monarchy. Frédéric sits next to Madame Arnoux at
dinner, but she barely speaks to him. Cisy tries and fails to win
back Cecile’s attention. Martinon embarrasses Cisy by bringing up
the duel he almost fought with Frédéric, and then Frédéric is embarrassed
when Roque begins asking questions about the portrait of Rosanette,
which he and Louise had seen at Frédéric’s house when they tried
to visit him. Everyone realizes that Rosanette is his lover.
Fumichon, an industrialist, speaks passionately about
the right to own property. Arnoux tries to argue that there are
two types of socialism, but Fumichon dismisses him, saying he would
strangle Proudhon (a socialist who claimed that “property is theft”).
Hussonnet arrives, bringing Dambreuse a reactionary pamphlet. Talk turns
to the rift between the workers and the bourgeoisie.
Louise, watching Madame Dambreuse act flirtatiously with Frédéric,
reveals to Madame Arnoux that she is in love with him. Madame Arnoux
tells her he has deceived other women and not to trust him. Madame
Dambreuse teases Frédéric about Louise’s obvious infatuation; he
is flattered. Frédéric feels comfortable and confident at the party
and makes a good impression on the guests. Before he leaves, Louise
corners him and makes him swear he loves her. She tells him to ask
for her hand in marriage, but Frédéric explains that marriage is
not wise for him right now. Later, he goes to Rosanette’s.
That night, Louise and her maid, Caroline, sneak out to
go see Frédéric. But his concierge tells them he hasn’t slept at
home for three months. Louise is heartbroken.
As the revolution topples the monarchy and the Republic
prevails, Frédéric gets caught up in the political situation and
engages with the world outside of his personal affairs. The new
Republic brings with it the possibility of socialism, which terrifies
the bourgeoisie (middle class) who fear they will lose their wealth
and property. The workers and the bourgeoisie had wanted to overthrow
King Philippe’s reign, but now the bourgeoisie and the workers are
separating and beginning to fight against each other. Rosanette,
who has no wealth of her own, resents Frédéric for his support of
the Republic, fearing that she’ll die poor. She believes France
was better off with a king. Although Frédéric will grow closer to
Rosanette and continue his involvement with her, their political
differences create a bitter undercurrent that places them on opposite
sides of a political dividing line.
Mademoiselle Vatnaz and Rosanette, one a spinster and
the other a woman of ill repute, embody very different ideas about
the role of women in society. Mademoiselle Vatnaz adamantly supports giving
women more rights and power, and she supports the Republic and socialism
in the hope of furthering her cause. Her views run to the extremes—for
example, she believes that the institution of marriage should be
abolished. Rosanette, meanwhile, believes that women are meant to
be lovers, mothers, and wives, and the two women argue vehemently.
Despite their radically different viewpoints, the women share one
thing in common: the actor Delmar. A lover or former lover of both
women, Delmar and their affection for him trumps their political
opinions as the root of their most bitter arguments. These very
different women, Flaubert seems to suggest, are not so different
in matters of the heart.
When Frédéric and Rosanette spend time alone in Fontainebleau,
they achieve a happy equilibrium away from the politics and romantic
intrigue of Paris. Without any outside forces to create obstacles,
jealousies, or rivals, Frédéric feels peaceful with her; when he
suspects he is not too smart, he dismisses the thought. He displays
a kindness with Rosanette that he has not yet displayed with any
other woman, avoiding plots and conniving. He has the woman he wants,
and he does not need to use trickery to keep her. However, this
apparent love is not as pure as this description suggests. Rosanette
in some ways has taken on the qualities of Madame Arnoux. Before
their trip, Frédéric saw her sitting by a fire, sewing, as he so
often saw Madame Arnoux do. Without an audience or her array of
admirers, Rosanette is calmer and more demure. It is possible that
Frédéric is using Rosanette as a kind of stand-in for Madame Arnoux,
transferring his love out of necessity. She is twenty-nine, which
Frédéric considers old, and he vividly imagines a happy future with
her, just as he did with Madame Arnoux. Stand-in or not, however,
he seems utterly convinced that he loves her, although it is curious
that this devotion becomes possible only when they are outside of
their real life in Paris.
The party at the Dambreuses’ repositions Frédéric as a
favored member of society, but to maintain this status he must extricate
himself from Louise. Louise, who had seemed so youthful and appealing when
Frédéric was in Nogent, wilts and loses her beauty when she is in
the sophisticated company of Madame Dambreuse and Madame Arnoux.
Out of her element, she is shocked to see Madame Dambreuse flirting
with Frédéric, which leads Madame Arnoux to warn her not to trust
him. Her obvious love for Frédéric makes him feel superior and self-confident,
and it increases his social standing in the eyes of Madame Dambreuse.
He dismisses her deftly at the end of the party, standing up for
the women there when she claims they are spiteful, and although
he swears he still loves her, he is certain he is cut out for better
things. He heads immediately to Rosanette’s house, leaving Louise,
with her pure love for him and her father’s fortune, behind.
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