Study Guide

The Red and the Black Pride

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Pride

Julien's pride was aroused by these words that demolished the fairy-tale world in which, for a quarter of an hour, he had been living. (1.6.20)

Julien's pride might be strong, but it is also fragile. Just try giving him an order or two and watch the look on his face. The truth is he'd rather kill you in a duel than take orders, no matter how powerful you are and how poor he is.

Given her perfect air of condescension, and a renunciation of self-will (which the husbands of Verrières held up to their wives, as an example, and which made Monsieur de Rênal swell with pride), she lived her life as loftily as she could. (1.7.10)

Madame de Verrières takes a lot of pride in the fact that she has always been a quiet and obedient wife. It's not until Julien enters her life that she think there might be other ways of having pride, like doing what you want instead of what others want.

Pride kept him from leaving any part of the campaign to chance or to the inspiration of the moment. (1.14.3)

Julien wants to sleep with Madame de Rênal. When it comes to making plans, the guy is a bit of a control freak. He wants to make sure that he is in control of every little thing that might happen, and as the narrator tells us, this is because he's too proud to let himself fail.

Still, amid those sweetest of all moments, he remained a victim of his bizarre pride, pretending to be a man accustomed to subjugating women. (1.15.19)

Julien knows he's not experienced in the area of seducing women. But his pride won't allow him to admit it, so he just continues on seducing Madame de Rênal as if he's an old pro.

[This] woman, so proud, whose contempt had so often made him redden all over, had just taken as her lover a petty laborer disguised as a tutor. (1.19.49)

Julien ain't the only person in the world with pride. His lover, Madame de Rênal, can't believe that she has allowed herself to be seduced by a lowly peasant. She's the mayor's wife, after all, and she is too good for the likes of Julien. It doesn't take Julien long to break through this wall of pride, though.

His pride offered him the illusion that he was accepting Monsieur de Rênal's offer only as a loan, and he gave the mayor a note pledging reimbursement in five years, with interest. (1.23.98)

Monsieur de Rênal offers Julien money to leave Verrières and go to seminary school. But pride prevents Julien from accepting the money as a gift. Instead, he insists on paying the mayor back as soon as he has the money to do so.

"Although he's of low birth, the young man has a noble heart. He won't be of any use if his pride is wounded." (1.30.22)

Father Pirard senses Julien's pride within five minutes of meeting him. From that point on, he warns anyone working with Julien that the boy won't be of any use if he gets offended. You wouldn't like him if he's offended. In other words, people in this book need to treat Julien with respect if they're going to get any use out of him.

Madame de Fervaques saw the tears; they were in such sharp contrast to his usual masculine steadiness that the heart of this great lady, so long steeped in all the most corroding effects of social-climber pride, was moved. (2.30.24)

Madame de Fervaques is used to seeing young men try to act tough and manly out of pride. She also knows that Julien Sorel is a proud young man. But when she sees him crying at the opera, she senses that there might be something more to him than the men she's used to.

Julien had already become cold and distant. He expressed his thanks, but in the vaguest language, and without committing himself to anything. (2.35.9)

At first, Julien is overcome with the news that the Marquis de La Mole has given him all the property and social status he could ever want. But he almost immediately takes on this new social role and becomes cold. After all, that's what upper class people have always acted like around him, so that's how he plans on acting now.

His imperturbable demeanor, his severe and almost malicious eyes, his pallor, and his invariable calm coolness began to frame his reputation. (2.35.11)

When Julien joins the army as a high-ranking officer, he is quick to get the admiration of his men. This is because he has always had the kind of pride you would only expect from someone who's been powerful his entire life. That's why it's so easy for Julien to look the part. As far as pride goes, he's always had the attitude of a nobleman.

Had she been less in fashion, they might almost have said that her way of talking was a bit overcolored to be true feminine delicacy. (2.11.9)

Mathilde likes to tell it like it is, mainly because she's bored with all the prim and proper mannerisms of high society. If she weren't so powerful, more people would probably talk about how un-feminine she is. After all, the people of 19th-century France weren't big fans of women who spoke their minds.

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