Study Guide

Count Norbert in The Red and the Black

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Count Norbert

Julien is warned early on that he'll have to watch out for Count Norbert, who is apparently a condescending snob. But this definitely doesn't match with Julien's first impression of the guy. As the text tells us, "From the start, Julien found him charming" (2.2.35). Count Norbert even backs Julien up when Julien has to travel across Paris to fight a duel with a guy.

When they're not busy dueling, Norbert and Julien tend to hang out on equal terms. In fact, Norbert "behaved admirably to [Julien]; he offered to take him riding" (2.3.2). The only times we really see a dark side to Count Norbert are when he starts feeling jealous about other people's power and wealth. When he goes to a ball, for example:

Norbert paid attention only to those few details […] He calculated the cost of everything, and the higher the total went, the more jealous he seemed to grow. (2.8.24)

He's a really envious dude. That's probably why he feels so comfortable around Julien, because Julien is a mere peasant who doesn't make him feel threatened.

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