Study Guide

Sentimental Education Women and Femininity

By Gustave Flaubert

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Women and Femininity

We know quite a bit about the ladies in Sentimental Education. How women get by, whom they marry, what their social upbringing is, who supports them, and whom they sleep with are pretty consistent concerns. Oh, and so are the nitty-gritty and the details of their bodies: Rosanette's thighs, Marie Arnoux's eyes, and Louise's freckles. And while it may be anachronistic, we can't help but see a little Madonna-whore complex going on with Frederick. We'll let you figure out who's who in that situation.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. Does being particularly feminine help characters in this novel socially?
  2. Are any of the male characters in Sentimental Education feminine?
  3. A lot of female characters use their femininity to get what they want. Does Madame Arnoux do this, too? If so, how?

Chew on This

Men seem to have most of the money in Sentimental Education, but women certainly run the show in their own ways.

Frederick is in love with Marie Arnoux, the novel's embodiment of femininity, but he's also pretty fond of Rosanette, who's nickname is "The Marshall." He just doesn't know which way he wants it.

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