A Sentimental Education Irony

A Sentimental Education Irony

Madame Arnoux and Frederic's Rendezvous

After their romance progresses every so slightly, Frederic implores Madame Arnoux to venture into public with him. He intends to demonstrate to the world that they love each other. At Frederic's behest, they establish a time and place to meet. On the assigned day, Frederic stands on the street corner for hours. When Madame Arnoux does not show, Frederic grows very upset. Meanwhile, Madame Arnoux’s son is deathly ill. Instead of meeting Frederic, she is watching her feverish son convulse on his bed and prays for his survival. Frederic is too self-centered to consider that anyone else has tribulations except for him.

To Be Loved

Feeling that his chances are through with Madame Arnoux and Rosanette, Frederic claims to give up on unrequited love. He vows to find a woman that while love him unconditionally. At this time, Frederic’s mother coordinates a marriage with her neighbor’s child Louise. Having known Frederic when she was a child and he a young adult, Louise is absolutely infatuated with Frederic. She offers him undying loyalty and ceaseless affection. Despite his vow to only love those that will love him back, Frederic pays Louise no attention and quickly returns to Paris to court Madame Arnoux.

Frederic and the Revolution

Frederic pays no heed to the French Revolution of 1848 that engulfs the city of Paris in chaos. He's too occupied courting Rosanette. When the fighting grows so loud that the fracas cannot be avoided, Frederic ventures onto the street. Guns fights are raging around him, and man are falling down dead. Despite this, Frederic is said to be “enjoying himself tremendously.” It is incredibly ironic that in a scene of murderous rampage, Frederic is finding a certain sense of sport and entertainment.

Heroes of the Upper-Class

As Frederic aspires to be a member of the French aristocracy he looks up to two men: Arnaux and Monsieur Dambreuses. Both men soon turn to Frederic as well. They both express an interest to engage Frederic in business matters. He is, at first, flattered at the attention, and feels as though he's been accepted. Yet as he comes to realize, both men are dishonest scammers who wish to use him manipulatively. Ironically, the men who he admired most in the upper-class, are the most immoral men he encounters throughout the novel.

Bemoaning the Wealthy

Frederic’s friends deride the aristocracy every opportunity they can. They host parties with beer and macarons and spend hours criticizing the French elite. At the same time, they are all relatively wealthy and if they are experiencing financial difficulties, they beg Frederic for money. As well, Deslauriers wants a desperately desires a position as a lawyer in the French courts system. Therefore, the men spend hours, in a sense, criticizing themselves.

The Duel

At a dinner party, a man offends the honor of Madame Arnoux. Outraged, Frederic throws a plate at the man. When he refuses to apologize, a duel is scheduled to resolve the matter. When the two men meet to duel with swords, it is broken up by Arnoux. Later in the novel, Frederic meets Rosanette, who is incredibly grateful that he was willing to defend her honor. Little does she know that Frederic was doing it for Madame Arnoux. He does not correct her and the two become lovers.

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