by Gustave Flaubert
Sentimental Education Chapter 8 Summary
- Frederick buys a "little mansion," along with some snazzy new furniture, a horse, and all that 19th-century fun stuff. His inspiration for the design? The Arnoux home.
- He's getting all sorts of ideas about how he is going to bring Madame Arnoux—"his future mistress"—over there. For starters, he's gotta get rid of Deslauriers.
- He quickly gets some debts going so he sells off some land he owns in Havre.
- He sends a note to the Dambreuses and plans a visit to the fancy couple.
- Their house is really impressive: "The heavy tapestry portières fell majestically, and the armchairs, the brackets, the tables, the entire furniture, which was in the style of the Second Empire, had a certain imposing and diplomatic air" (1.8.5).
- As for the Dambreuses, well, she's gracious and lovely and he's hanging out with all sorts of important politicians and officials of high rank. Once again, the men are old and the women are young. Like seriously young.
- Madame Dambreuse invites Frederick to come to her house every Wednesday. Ooh la la.
- Next up, Frederick visits Rosanette. While he's there, her hairdresser shows up, and Frederick is shocked by how rude she is to her servants.
- Her lady-in-waiting, Delphine, keeps appearing to tell her that she has a visitor, but Rosanette is clearly annoyed by the visitor and tries to get rid of her.
- In comes Mademoiselle Vatnaz. Frederick pays her money that Rosanette owes. Rosanette tells Mademoiselle Vatnaz that she's going to Alphonsine's, but she gives a different version of her plans to each person. Curious.
- Rosanette, still being odd, tells Frederick to pass along a message to Arnoux that he should visit her. Frederick thinks that Rosanette will someday be his mistress, but suddenly he has a desire to see Madame Arnoux. This again?
- Sure enough, he goes to visit Madame Arnoux the next day. She is sewing with her children and looks incredibly beautiful. Frederick is overcome: "seized with a love stronger than ever, a passion that knew no bounds" (1.8.180).
- They talk about family, professional aspirations, the whole lot. She holds out his hand to him when he leaves, which he reads as a flirtatious move, however minor.
- Frederick invites all of his friends (Hussonet, Pellerin, Deslauriers, Sénécal, Cisy, and Dussardier) to a housewarming party.
- Sénécal has been fired from his job as a teacher because, in the name of equality, he was refusing to give out prizes. He continues to be very political, often raging and suffering for his beliefs. The narrator now calls him "The Socialist." His beliefs are pretty much summed up with this passage: "The people in the end will get tired of it, and may make the capitalist pay for their sufferings either by bloody proscriptions or by the plunder of their houses" (1.8.113). Yikes.
- After discussing people, they turn to current events, such as the increase in taxes and problems with the treatment of state art. Then it turns into an argument about appointing someone in the government to be in charge of art. Sounds like a normal Tuesday night.
- Deslauriers ups the ante by announcing: "I drink to the utter destruction of the existing order of things—that is to say, of everything included in the words Privilege, Monopoly, Regulation, Hierarchy, Authority, State!... which I would like to smash as I do this!" dashing on the table the beautiful wine-glass, which broke into a thousand pieces" (1.8.141).
- The conversation now turns to complicated political events, criticism of the king, and foreign interests. (These parts can be tough, so just hang tight.)
- Arnoux's name comes up in conversation. Cisy doesn't like him because he's now in the pottery profession. Pellerin lets it drop that Arnoux is involved in a lawsuit involving property at Belleville.
- After dinner, they all move into the drawing room and begin to critique Frederick's decorating style and book collection. Sénécal wants to know why he doesn't have working-men poets in his collection, Hussonet personally insults all of the authors, and Cisy wants to know why he doesn't have any physiological studies. Ouch, guys. Cut the guy some slack.
- Frederick pulls Deslauriers aside to pay back some money he owes him, but Deslauriers asks for money to support Hussonet's newspaper. Frederick gives him a big, fat nopers.
- After the nice meal they just had, Frederick's friends leave and criticize him behind his back, calling the luncheon "too heavy" and the household arrangements "trivial." Pellerin is mad that Frederick didn't order a painting for his new home.
- Ah, friendship.
- Frederick doesn't feel so great about the lunch either, and in thinking about his "friends," he feels that "a huge ditch surrounded with shade separated him from them" (1.8.168).
- Worried about Arnoux's reversal of fortunes, Frederick hurries to visit Madame Arnoux the next day. It's true that Arnoux is in financial disrepair.
- Frederick reassures her that he'll get some information and that it will all be okay.
- Arnoux shows up and invites himself out to dinner with Frederick, telling his wife that he has an appointment with M. Oudry. He really has plans to see Rosanette (a.k.a. The Marshall/The Maréchale).
- Frederick spends a lot of time with Arnoux and Rosanette. Her house is dazzling and exciting to him: "her sparkling eyes, her beauty, her gaiety, dazzled Frederick, and made his nerves tingle under the lash of desire" (1.8.195). We call this crush-cheating.
- Meanwhile, Madame Arnoux is home teaching her little boy how to read, sewing, or working with her daughter Marthe on the piano. That means she and Frederick get to know each other better.
- Rosanette and Madame Arnoux could not be more different—one "passionate" and the other almost "religious"—but Frederick is drawn to both of them.
- One day, Rosanette tells Frederick that she's getting fed up with Arnoux and is thinking about replacing him. If you know what we mean. He's also spending too much money, and now Rosanette has signed her name to a promissory note payable to Monsieur Dambreuse.
- Frederick is making feeble attempts to write a "history of aesthetics" and other books, but he's distracted by thoughts of Madame Arnoux and gets kind of depressed. Womp womp.
- Frederick hatches a plan to get the unemployed Sénécal working for Monsieur Arnoux so that he can report back on the man's comings and goings. Frederick talks up Sénécal's skills in formulating a perfect copper-red like the Chinese, and sure enough, Arnoux is interested.
- At the same time, Frederick is trying to get Arnoux to spend more time with his mistress, so that he can visit Madame Arnoux more often.
- While Rosanette is having a love affair with the actor Delmar, and of course with Monsieur Arnoux, she becomes flirtatious with Frederick—or at least that's how it looks.
- And so he decides to make his move—but she jealously mentions Madame Arnoux. It's getting confusing (to us, too!) and Frederick is irritated by her mixed messages.
- Frederick gets a hair-brained idea of having Pellerin paint a portrait of Rosanette. It allows him to spend more time around her—but she's still playing games. She tells Frederick that she wishes she had a rich man, but he knows she's also having a fling with Monsieur Oudry—" a man that could count a million three times over" (1.8.267).
- Hussonet (the Bohemian) and Deslauriers (the advocate) are waiting for Frederick when he gets home. They want money for their newspaper idea, and after much resistance, Frederick relents and sends for 15,000 francs.
- His mother sends him a letter and wants to know why he isn't networked with the rich, connected Monsieur Dambreuse. And BTW: why isn't he a minister yet?
- Frederick thinks about his debts and his loss of ambition, but manages to visit Dambreuse anyway. The banker promises to help him build a career in the Council of State,
- Rosanette announces that she has gotten rid of Oudry and invites Frederick to her place.
- Time for another party, this time at the Dambreuses. The Madame is looking good in her "mauve dress trimmed with lace" (1.8.325). Guests are arriving. important people are circulating, and man-servants in fine gold-laced livery are hurrying about.
- Frederick listens to all of the idle chatter, "risqué remarks," and talk that a Republic could never replace the French monarchy. (History!)
- Martinon shows up and chats up the Dambreuse niece, Cécile.
- Dambreuse tells Frederick he can help him get a good job in business.
- The next day, Frederick hurries over to Rosanette's house, but she rejects him. Hmmm, is another man there?
- Frederick runs into Mademoiselle Vatnaz, who tells him that Delmar is there. Frederick is totes humiliated. Vatnaz (described as an "elderly spinster") vents some anger about how ungrateful Rosanette is to her. Oh, and she clearly has plans for revenge: "to think that I knew her to earn her living as a seamstress! If it were not for me, she would have fallen into the mire twenty times over! But I will plunge her into it yet! I'll see her dying in a hospital—and everything about her will be known!" (1.8.415)
- She blabs all sorts of gossip about Rosanette's past lovers, and she tries to get Frederick to rat out Rosanette to Arnoux—to lead the man into catching his lover in bed with Delmar.
- Frederick goes up to the Arnoux apartment and overhears an argument between the couple. She has discovered that her husband bought a cashmere scarf that clearly was not for her. Uh-oh.
- Arnoux tries pretty stinkin' hard to get out of the accusation, and even says he will swear that he has not purchased the shawl (which, by the way, he totally did). Then he lies and says he got it on behalf of Oudry's mistress.
- Frederick feels stuck in the middle and even defends Arnoux to his wife. Huh?
- Arnoux prepares to go see his mistress, even though Frederick tells him that would be "nasty." Hard to keep track of the morals here.
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