A Sentimental Education

Characters in Sentimental Education

The characters of Sentimental Education are marked by capriciousness and self-interest. Frederic, the main character, is originally infatuated with Madame Arnoux, but throughout the novel falls in and out of love with her. Furthermore, he is unable to decide on a profession and instead lives on his uncle's inheritance. Other characters, such as Mr. Arnoux, are as capricious with business as Frederic is with love. Without their materialism and "instinctive worship of power", almost the entire cast would be completely rootless. Such was Flaubert's judgment of his times, and the continuing applicability of that cynicism goes a long way in explaining the novel's enduring appeal.

Sequence of appearances

  • Frédéric Moreau, the "hero", a young man from provincial France, who begins and ends as a member of the middle class.
  • Jacques Arnoux, publisher, faience manufacturer; also a speculator and a womanizer, "ill nearly all the time and [looks] like an old man" towards the end of the novel, and eventually dies a year before the novel's end.
  • Mme Marie (Angèle) Arnoux, his wife, mother of two children, platonic affair with Frédéric, moves to Rome by the end of the novel. Always virtuous and honorable, completely devoted to her two children.
  • Marthe Arnoux, their daughter
  • M. Roque, land-owner and M. Dambreuse's unsavoury agent; father of Louise Roque.
  • Louise (Elisabeth-Olympe-Louise) Roque, his red-headed daughter, a country-girl; is passionately in love with Frédéric for a time, marries Deslauriers, leaves him for a singer.
  • Charles Deslauriers, Frederic's close friend. Extremely ambitious but unable to realize his ambitions, he has a jealous, competitive and somewhat parasitical relationship with the more prosperous Frederic. He is a law student and, after several different positions, he finishes as novel.
  • M. Dambreuse, banker, aristocratic politician, timeserver, financier. Dead in the third part of the novel.
  • Mme Dambreuse, his much-younger, very determined, exquisite wife, with whom Frederic has an affair and almost marries; after Frederic breaks with her, toward the novel's end, she marries an Englishman.
  • Baptiste Martinon, law student, a rich farmer's son, a reasonably hard-working careerist ends up a senator by the end of the novel.
  • Marquis de Cisy, nobleman and law student, a dapper youth, father of eight by the end of the novel.
  • Sénécal, math teacher and uncompromising, puritanical, dogmatic Republican; supposedly dead by the end of the novel.
  • Dussardier, A simple and honest shop worker. A committed Republican, he is an active participant in the protests and revolts throughout the book. He dies in the last of these protests we see, run through by Sénécal with his sword.
  • Hussonet, journalist, drama critic, clown, ends up controlling all the theatres and the whole press.
  • Regimbart, "The Citizen", a boozy revolutionary chauvinist; becomes a ghost of a man.
  • Pellerin, painter with more theories than talent; becomes a photographer.
  • Mlle Vatnaz, actress, courtesan, frustrated feminist with literary pretensions; vanishes by the end of the novel.
  • Dittmer, frequent guest of Arnoux
  • Delmas or Delmar, actor, singer, showman (may also be the singer introduced in Chapter 1)
  • M. and Mme Oudry, guests of the Arnoux
  • Catherine, housekeeper for M. Roque
  • Eléonore, mother of Louise Roque
  • Uncle Barthélemy, wealthy uncle of Frédéric
  • Eugène Arnoux, son of the Arnoux
  • Rosanette (Rose-Annette) Bron, "The Marshal", courtesan with many lovers, e.g. M. Oudry; for a time Jacques Arnoux; later she has a lengthy affair and little son who dies with Frédéric.
  • Clémence, Deslauriers' mistress
  • Marquis Aulnays, Cisy's godfather; M. de Forchambeaux, his friend, Baron de Comaing, another friend; M. Vezou, his tutor
  • Cécile, M. Dambreuse's: Officially the "niece" of the Dambreuses, in reality M. Dambeuse's illegitimate daughter. Towards the end of the novel she is married to Martinon. Hated by Madame Dambreuse, but favored by her father, she inherits his fortune after his death (much to Mme. rage).
  • Another "character": Mme Arnoux's Renaissance silver casket, first noted at her house, then at Rosanette's, finally bought at auction by Mme Dambreuse

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