Study Guide

The Red and the Black Part 2, Chapter 19

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)

Part 2, Chapter 19

Comic Opera

  • Mathilde finds Julien gross now, although she tries to figure out why she ever would have slept with him to begin with. She keeps trying to think of what a great young man he is, but then she remembers how foolishly he told her he loved her.
  • While sketching one afternoon, Mathilde catches herself drawing a portrait of Julien. She thinks it's a sign, since she had no conscious awareness of what she was drawing.
  • Later that night, Mathilde goes to the opera and hears a song about someone loving so much that it makes them crazy. She goes home and plays the song on the piano over and over, thinking about how glorious it is to be in love.
  • Nonetheless, she feels that the best thing for her ego is to treat Julien like garbage. So that's what she does.
  • Meanwhile, Julien doubts himself more and more. For the first time, he starts to wonder whether he's as great a man as he thinks he is. He even thinks about committing suicide.
  • One night, Julien runs out to garden and uses the ladder to sneak up into Mathilde's room again.
  • Once he's in the room, Mathilde jumps out of bed and runs into his arms.
  • After they've had sex again, Mathilde cuts off a bunch of her hair and gives it to him as a reminder that she is his slave. She asks him to show her the hair if she ever steps out of line in the future.
  • Julien hugs her one last time and scampers away.
  • The next morning, Mathilde styles her hair in a way that hides that massive chunk she's cut off.
  • Again though, she loses interest in him and doesn't give him the time of day.

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