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When Arnoux runs into business problems, Frederic lends him 14,000 francs, if only to help Madame Arnoux. As Frederic comes to realize, Arnoux has no intentions of paying back the loan. In fact, he has been scamming many of the people around him. When he is threatened by law in an attempt to force him to repay the money, he is always able to navigate his way out of the situation without paying. Arnoux, and to a lesser extent Dambreuse's, shady business practices are used as a metaphor for the entrepreneurial upper-class of France, who leech off all those beneath them. They are then offered protections by the law that the lower classes are not. It is also a symbol of the "shackles" of aristocracy that the Revolution of 1848 sought to overthrow.
During the final pages of the novel, Frederic is walking down the street when he notices some revolutionary insurrection. He then sees his friend Dussardier amongst the crowd. At that moment, Dussardier ignores the orders of a guardsman and is stabbed to death. The shocking image is a metaphor for the personal toll of revolution. In order to topple regimes as strong as the French monarchy, thousands lost their lives. This is not a fact that is highlighted in A Sentimental Education up until this point. Idealists like Dussardier died for their values, and for what they believed to be a better future.
In the novel's third part, Arnoux's luck finally seems to have run out. After scamming the friend of Regimbart and borrowing money from Rosanette, the debt has finally caught up with him. He is viciously pursued by debtors and is forced to flee Paris. Eventually his possessions are sold at an estate sale. This act is a metaphor for the overthrow of the aristocracy, that was so the goal of the Revolutions. The revolutionaries dreamed of redistributing all the property and possession and destroying the aristocracy's claims to power, and, as the downfall of Arnoux suggests, they were successful to some extent.
Although never directly stated, it is apparent that Rosanette works as a prostitute in the novel. Many men visit her and gift her presents, and at one particularly vulnerable moment, she reveals that her parents forced her into an "arrangement" with a wealthy older man when she was only a teenager. Although Frederic desires her, he also despises this aspect of her. He goes so far as to label her a "whore" at several points. Rosanette's position, and profession, are a metaphor for the treatment of women throughout the novel. They are viewed primarily as objects of sexual gratification, in a distinctly possessive matter. While the men carry on multiple affairs, they belief that they can criticize a women for similar behavior. As well, they attempt to buy gifts for women in exchange for their affection, as Frederic often does to Madame Arnoux. Rosanette may be despised for what she does but it is the most revealing glimpse into gender relations throughout the novel.
After begging Frederic for a job, Sénécal is finally offered work at Arnoux's pottery factory. Although his time at the factory is not described in any considerable detail, he is involved in a very interesting scene. When Frederic comes to the factory for a chance to see Madame Arnoux, Sénécal interrupts by taking them on a tour of the premises. When they reach the workshop, Sénécal chastises a worker for eating on the job. He fines her ten francs and berates her in front of the employees. It is important to note that Sénécal is an avowed socialist. He speaks poetically about the valour of the worker, yet as he demonstrates in this scene, he himself treats workers poorly. This is a metaphor for the totalitarian corruption of power. When Sénécal is put into a position of power, he immediately exerts that power against others. He becomes dictatorial, and disdainful of those he once admired the most. It is evident that power corrupts even the most dogmatic.
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