Sentimental Education | Study Guide

Gustave Flaubert

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Sentimental Education Study Guide." Course Hero. 2 Apr. 2018. Web. 11 Dec. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, April 2). Sentimental Education Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 11, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Sentimental Education Study Guide." April 2, 2018. Accessed December 11, 2018.


Course Hero, "Sentimental Education Study Guide," April 2, 2018, accessed December 11, 2018,

Sentimental Education | Part 3, Chapter 2 | Summary



The events in this chapter take place in July of 1848.

Madame Dambreuse is hosting guests, including Roque and Martinon. She mentions Frédéric and Cisy are coming to dinner, and Martinon wonders if Cisy is going to propose to Cécile. Martinon thinks Cécile might be Monsieur Dambreuse's daughter, and he resolves to ask for her hand in marriage before Cisy gets a chance.

When Cisy and Frédéric arrive, Frédéric has to explain why he's been avoiding the Roques. One wealthy guest panics when she hears a barrel organ playing a polka. She knows this is a rebel signal. Many of Paris's wealthy are worried about radicals plotting another insurrection. The guests calm the woman, saying General Cavaignac restored order and the June death toll was exaggerated. Monsieur Dambreuse tells Pellerin he's had to conceal Pellerin's "revolutionary painting."

Frédéric is surprised to see the Arnouxs. He's been annoyed with Rosanette and feels in love with Madame Arnoux again. At dinner, as the guests enjoy the wealth they recently feared losing, Frédéric is seated next to Madame Arnoux. He tries to talk to her, but she isn't interested. He says he loves her and grows angry when she doesn't respond. He notices Louise across the table.

When the guests start discussing newspapers, Frédéric starts an argument with Arnoux to spite Madame Arnoux. Cisy and Martinon compete for Cécile's attention. The conversation gets louder as the guests berate the rebels and call them cowards for hiding behind barricades. Roque says an "iron hand" should rule France. Monsieur Dambreuse asks Frédéric about Dussardier, and he reports that Dussardier is considered a hero. The guests begin discussing courage and duels. They bring up Cisy and Frédéric's duel, to Cisy's embarrassment.

When Pellerin brings up the rebels' destruction of the Spanish museum, Roque asks Pellerin about the scandalous picture of Rosanette, adding that Frédéric's name is on the painting as the owner. Martinon says Frédéric knows Rosanette well, and Madame Arnoux and Louise both realize Rosanette is Frédéric's mistress.

Frédéric snaps at Martinon in private for embarrassing him. Martinon laughs and says, "It'll help you!" Frédéric is confused. Meanwhile, the other guests continue their political discussion. Pellerin is in favor of monarchy. When Arnoux speaks in favor of Socialism, an industrialist named Fumichon protests he has a right to property he earned. Hussonnet tries to entertain the guests with jokes, but after recent deaths no one's in a laughing mood.

Madame Dambreuse, who isn't interested in politics, flirts with Frédéric. Louise talks to Madame Arnoux, the only woman at the party who doesn't seem conceited. They discuss Frédéric, and Louise reveals she's in love with him. Madame Arnoux tells her not to believe men's promises. Louise wonders if Frédéric promised something to Madame Arnoux too.

When Madame Dambreuse asks Frédéric about Louise, he denies he has any interest in her. He's starting to feel comfortable and confident. To impress an audience of female listeners he says he's in favor of divorce. He then gets revenge on Cisy by telling him he might be arrested as a "Legitimist" or supporter of the monarchy. Monsieur Dambreuse is impressed with Frédéric's argument.

Frédéric walks Roque and Louise home. Louise asks why he's ashamed of her and asks him to declare his love. She claims she saw him covered in blood at the barricades and worried. Then she says he can ask Roque for her hand in marriage soon. However, marriage is the furthest thing from Frédéric's mind, and he wants to marry an upper-class woman. He asks Louise if she's thought it over, then gives her multiple excuses for why he can't get married at the moment. He leaves her and goes to Rosanette's.

As the Arnouxs walk home, Madame Arnoux thinks her husband is the only one who's been decent to her all night. Arnoux makes disparaging comments about Frédéric and Rosanette.

Louise urges her housekeeper, Catherine, to accompany her to Frédéric's house. She says she needs to talk to him—she's his wife. The two women talk their way through several checkpoints and finally reach Frédéric's apartment. The concierge says Frédéric hasn't slept at home for three months. Louise sobs and Catherine comforts her.


This scene demonstrates Frédéric's transformation into a member of the bourgeoisie he used to detest. The last time he attended a Dambreuse party, he made zealous arguments for revolt. Now he adapts himself to the crowd to prove he belongs there.

The narrator mocks the guests' exaggerated fear that any noise might be the rebels coming for their wealth. But the guests mostly seem to revel in the June insurrection's defeat. Roque's desire for an "iron hand" foreshadows the authority Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte seizes in 1851's Second Empire. They still enjoy the romantic appeal of heroes in battle, appreciating the story of Dussardier's valiant actions.

Other remarks anticipate the increased power of the wealthy middle class. The industrialist Fumichon rails against philosopher Proudhon's idea that "Property is theft." He's earned his riches and should be allowed to keep them.

Frédéric and his friends sense the revolution is no longer popular. Their views have also shifted. Pellerin's "reverse" or defeat at the club in Part 3, Chapter 1 turns him against the rebels. Hussonnet takes whichever side he thinks will get him published, mocking the end of slavery and the French Revolution of 1789.

Frédéric isn't concerned with politics. He is surrounded by reminders of his failure to get the woman he really wants. The duel, which Martinon only mentions to embarrass his own romantic rival Cisy, failed to impress the woman Frédéric fought for, and the painting of Rosanette was a distraction he'd rather not remember.

When Madame Dambreuse starts flirting with him, Frédéric feels redeemed. They both appreciate "emotions of a more lasting nature." Frédéric insults the less affluent Louise, marking himself as a rich person who knows better. He frightens the easily scared Cisy by implying the revolution is out to get him for supporting the monarchy. He argues for divorce, an argument he knows will intrigue and scandalize the guests.

But Madame Arnoux and Louise, who both imagine they're the only one Frédéric loves, get a rude awakening. The women communicate emotions through looks. Flaubert's narrator often tells the reader what characters' looks signify. Nonverbal communication can be more subtle and delicate than spoken words.

Frédéric has seen the future he wants—the safety of wealth. He doesn't join Louise in finding the aristocracy "spiteful." He tells her vague lies she doesn't really believe. As for Madame Arnoux, she departs with her husband, feeling a rare moment of sympathy for him. Her story with Frédéric seems to be over.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Sentimental Education? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!