Stendhal Red and Black

Topics: France, House of Bourbon, Napoleon I Pages: 3 (1194 words) Published: November 11, 2012
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 continue life as it was before. Problems with this idea arose from around the nation and the people of France had little respect for the newly reinstated regime. Revolutionary ideas and results were still fresh in the minds of many, and the success of the revolution was far from forgotten. The monarchy underwent a process of systematically removing supporters of Napoleonic ideals and attempted to revitalize the church as a symbol of power and respect. Despite their efforts, France was drastically different than it once was. Greater equality among men had created a sort of capitalist movement where the aristocrats had to compete with the bourgeoisie for wealth and respect. Aristocrats had to work to stay ahead and could no longer live lavishly relaxed lifestyles. The struggle for wealth, power, and respect creates high tensions between the liberal bourgeoisie and the conservative aristocrats. This tension became cause for outrageous levels of hypocrisy and deceit amongst the French population. Stendhal’s The Red and the Black places young Julien Sorel in France’s restorative period. Julien is a young man from a liberal bourgeois family who idolizes Napoleon for his victories and his rise to power. He wants nothing more than to mirror...
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