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Themes

Not so many in Sentimental Education exactly moral—but plenty of them pretend to be. These people are less concerned about doing the right thing, and more concerned with, well, themselves. Even the most morally strict figure, Madame Moreau, has selfish motivations. Bourgeois conventions (i.e., what the middle class thinks is proper behavior) dictates this behavior. And you know what? We're pretty sure Flaubert wasn't a fan.

Questions About Morality and Ethics

  1. Make two columns and divide up the moral characters from the immoral ones. Was it easy? Impossible? Why?
  2. Louise Roque seems like she would be one of the most moral characters. What's her deal with running off with the singer?
  3. Is it fair to say that the courtesans are immoral? If not, what are they, exactly?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Frederick's morality is questionable. We usually expect a lot from our protagonists, but Frederick doesn't really deliver when it comes to making the right choices.

Frederick's mother might be a pain in the neck, but she's just helping him do the right thing.

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