Sunday, 26 October 2014

The male characters in Sentimental Education

Jacques Arnoux is flirtatious, rather manipulative, and pragmatic to the point of being scheming and deceitful, who cheats in both senses of the word. Deslauriers is pragmatic, conceited and ambitious, a man of double standard, who says inheritance is unjust and should be removed but who delightedly associates himself with his friend's inherited fortune "we're going to have an easy time of it now!", who speaks of the destruction of privilege and authority, like an anarchist, but who wants connections and authority and power for himself. Hussonnet is a loud, petty, argumentative philistine who has a frivolous mind, bad taste and no understanding of literature and who disparages great authors such as Balzac and Hugo, with confidence. Sénécal is another philistine, a loud egotist, a socialist who wants art to have a political message and serve a purpose, declaring that everything else corrupts the mass- like Hussonnet, he has no taste, like Deslauriers, he becomes a leftist because of his poverty. All these 4 take advantage of Frédéric in 1 way or another. Pellerin isn't a philistine like Hussonnet and Sénécal, but he's unrealistic, theoretical, self-centred, boastful and untalented. Regimbart's bored and boring, old and morose. Cisy's pretentious, stupid and cowardly. Martinon's a coward, opportunist and conformist. M. Dambreuse goes with the flow. And the protagonist Frédéric Moreau is unambitious, irresolute, passive, quiescent and sentimental.
The only guy that is nice, good-natured and sincere is probably Dussardier, but he's simple and naive, somehow reminiscent of Charles Bovary though not very similar. And he's almost a minor character.

Update at 5.54pm: 
Sénécal, as it turns out, is disgusting just like Deslauriers. Look at this passage about him, at Arnoux's factory (Sénécal= the deputy manager= the Republican): 
"As soon as he set foot in the room, the deputy manager noticed a breach of the regulations [...] Sénécal told them that they would have to stay behind an extra hour. 'Serve you right', he said. They bent over their work without a murmur; but their anger could be guessed from the hoarse sound of their breathing. In any case they were anything but easy to manage, since they had all been dismissed from the big factory. The Republican governed them harshly. A man of theory, he respected only the masses and was merciless towards individuals". 
Oh the irony. 

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