Stendhal Red and Black Essay

1205 Words Nov 22nd, 2012 5 Pages
The great Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “Power is founded upon opinion.” In the wake of Napoleon’s rule, France was on the brink of chaos. The previously overthrown Bourbon family was restored to the throne, although France was nothing like it was when they had left. The church had lost most of its power, aristocrats no longer held dominance, and the once voiceless third estate was now a powerful adversary in the form of citizens with rights and demands. The monarchy no longer held the power to do as they pleased; they now had to answer to the voices of the people or face being overthrown for a second time.
Contrary to their revolutionary predecessors, many new thinkers believed that France should simply forget the revolution and
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Julien recognizes the importance of public images and hides his Napoleonic aspirations behind a veil of Latin studies and service to the church. Julien’s counterfeit aspirations catch the eye of M. de Rênal, the mayor of Verrières. Rênal is a conservative who despises liberal ideas and practices and supports the restoration of the Bourbon house. Like most aristocrats of that time, Rênal’s primary concerns lie within the opinions of his peers. In accordance with this idea, Rênal decides to hire a tutor to reside in his home and to teach his children. Blind to the truth, Rênal hires Julien due to his aspirations of becoming a priest and a Latin scholar. Julien’s hypocritical artifice bears its first fruits and he infiltrates the house of a prestigious conservative family.
The success of Julien’s tactical deception strengthens his ego and paves the way for his Napoleonic appetite to feed. He dedicates himself to his conservative ruse and develops a tactical view on every aspect of his daily life. Upon his arrival at Rênal’s house, he flatters Mme. de Rênal by reciting religious quotes in Latin. Julien’s intelligent performance stimulates such pride in the Rênal household that M. de Rênal invites the whole town to his home to show off his children’s fabulous new tutor. Rênal’s demonstration of Julien further emphasizes the importance of public opinion during that period. Mme. de Rênal’s maid falls in

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