Study Guide

Sentimental Education Wealth

By Gustave Flaubert

Wealth

While Arnoux was searching his pockets for money, Frederick stretched out towards the cap his closed hand, and then, opening it in a shamefaced manner, he deposited in it a louis d'or. (1.1.37)

From the moment he meets Madame Arnoux, Frederick is trying to impress her with the Benjamins. Here, he manages to beat Arnoux to giving the performer money. But of course, that's just the beginning.

They spoke of what they would do later, when they had left college. First of all, they would set out on a long voyage with the money that Frederick would take out of his own fortune on reaching his majority. (1.2.9)

Deslauriers and Frederick have big plans together. For one, they'll travel the world together on Frederick's dime—an idea that never come to be. Bummer. Though we can't say they're surprised.

But, as he intended to become a candidate at a later period for a professor's chair at the school, and as he had no money, Deslauriers accepted the post of principal clerk in an attorney's office at Troyes. (1.1.15)

Deslauriers is one of the few characters who has very little access to money—and therefore to society. Because he has so few resources, he's forced to move to Troyes, instead of to Paris as planned. What's the big deal about Paris anyway?

He believed in courtesans advising diplomatists, in wealthy marriages brought about by intrigues, in the cleverness of convicts, in the capacity of strong men for getting the better of fortune. In short, he considered it so useful to visit the Dambreuses, and talked about it so plausibly, that Frederick was at a loss to know what was the best course to take. (1.5.296)

Deslauriers may not have money or status, but he sure thinks like someone who does. After all, he is the one who provides the roadmap for Frederick's rise in society. How's that for gratitude?

He had just been dismissed from the boarding-school, in which he had been a teacher, for having given a whipping to an aristocrat's son. His straitened circumstances had got worse in consequence: he laid the blame of this on the inequalities of society, and cursed the wealthy. (1.5.394)

Sénécal has just lost the first of many jobs. Angry at the class system, he blames money for almost all of his problems. Do you think this is a fair accusation?

So, after all, this catastrophe was a piece of good fortune; like those earthquakes which unveil treasures, it had revealed to him the hidden wealth of his nature. (1.6.3)

At first, Frederick thinks he won't get any inheritance from his uncle, so he tries to look on the bright side. He decides that having no money will make him a better person. Is he right? Would he have been better off without all the money he inherited?

As she had now become wealthy, she wore a large lace collar over her vest of smooth black velvet; and her wide trousers of poppy-coloured silk, clinging closely to her figure, and drawn tight round her waist by a cashmere scarf, had all over their seams little natural white camellias. (1.7.155)

One guest at Rosanette's party seems to be the essence of money. Her beautiful clothes and perfect appearance are dazzling to Frederick. And hey, who can blame him?

"Ah! what a pity! and to think that imbeciles take me for a man of wealth!" (1.8.273)

Fake it till you make it isn't as easy as it looks. Frederick is overspending and going into major debt just to convince people that he's part of their class. It's all a little messy.

M. Dambreuse had also invited a number of scholars and magistrates, two or three celebrated doctors, and he deprecated with an air of humility the eulogies which they pronounced on his entertainment and the allusions to his wealth. (1.8.327)

Monsieur Dambreuse might just be the wealthiest person in the novel. And he's totally fine with it. He majorly enjoys his status and the attention he gets at his lavish parties. Wouldn't you?

He had spoken to influential men, and seen wealthy ladies at close quarters. (1.8.395)

Frederick enjoys the access he gets at the Dambreses' parties. He thinks he's on the way to the top, but boy does he have a lot to learn.

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