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Themes

It's no secret that there's some seriously upheaval going on in Sentimental Education. We've got battles in the street, thrones getting tossed out of The Tuileries Palace window by a mob, and working class stiffs building barricades in the streets. Flaubert is describing King Louis Philippe giving up the throne—under extreme pressure—and getting the heck out of Paris. Check out our section on "Setting" for the full low-down. What's most important, though, is how Flaubert's characters—especially Frederick—respond to the revolution and engage politically. Or more accurately, how they don't.

Questions About Politics

  1. Political change rages in this novel. So who wins out in the end?
  2. How do politics affect Frederick and his life plans? Which side is he on?
  3. Who's the most political figure in the novel? Who is actively involved? Is anyone less involved than Frederick?

Chew on This

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

Despite the crazy political scene going down, it's pretty clear that Flaubert cared more about his protagonist than the revolution.

Flaubert gives us hints from the very beginning of the novel that Frederick is incapable of seeing outside himself. His self-centeredness just doesn't go well with political activism.

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