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Sentimental Education

Sentimental Education


by Gustave Flaubert

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

Sentimental Education: Seems simple enough, right? But let's start with a little vocab lesson just in case.

We all know what an education is, but what about that pesky four-syllable-er?Basically, being sentimental means having feelings about feelings. So instead of "I love her," we'd get "I love her, and loving her makes me feel this way." Translation: it's a little self-indulgent.

Self-indulgent, we say? Yep. That's Frederick to a T.

So what is Frederick's sentimental education? Well, over the course of the novel, he's exposed to new emotions, attitudes, and activities. Whether or not he learns from the education is an entirely different question, though. But to be fair, toward the end, he actively chooses to be sentimental rather than ruin the memories of Madame Arnoux's perfection with a less-than-perfect situation.

P.S. Many editions of the novel include the subtitle "The History of a Young Man." What do you think that adds—or takes away—from the title? What if it had been "The History of the 1848 Revolution?"

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