Study Guide

The Red and the Black Marriage

By Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle)


Part 1 of The Red and the Black centers on the affair between Julien Sorel and Madame de Rênal. So you can imagine that the institution of marriage plays an important role in all the juicy goings-on and sexytimes. Adultery would have been considered a pretty big no-no in Stendhal's time, but Julien Sorel isn't one to play it safe when it comes to his passion and ambition.

Speaking of ambition, in Part 2, our man Julien decides that the best way to social climb in his claustrophobic world is via marriage. Yeah, Stendhal doesn't have the most positive take on the institution of holy matrimony.

Questions About Marriage

  1. Why does it take Madame de Rênal a while to recognize her attraction to Julien? Use specific evidence from the text support your answer.
  2. How is Julien's first romance with Madame de Rênal different from his second romance with Mathilde de La Mole? How are they the same?
  3. Why is Monsieur de Rênal reluctant to throw down and confront Julien about the affair with Madame de Rênal? What does it tell us about Monsieur?
  4. How does the Marquis de La Mole react when he hears that Mathilde plans on marrying Julien? Why?

Chew on This

In The Red and the Black, Stendhal shows us that marriage should never get in the way of love.

The Red and the Black reveals that love is just a passing emotion, while marriage should be forever.