Flaubert's Portrayal of Mood and Temperament in L'Education sentimentale

Much like the Impressionist painters who sought to capture the inchoate, changing and fleeting aspects of reality in their art, Flaubert wished to give in his novel a more truthful rendering of human existence as he understood it. For him, the only meaningful relationship the individual could hope to achieve would be characterized necessarily by a precarious transitoriness, since the successful fusion of his inner self with his observations of reality would depend upon an ideal balance between mood and temperament. In L'Education sentimentale, we observe the fluctuating attitudes and behavior of Frédéric Moreau through the portrayal of his temperament and changing moods. The varying degrees of lighting intensity in which Flaubert enshrines his descriptions of Mme Arnoux correspond to specific frames of reference in the mind of his protagonist. Lighting thus plays an important creative and atmospheric role in such scenes because it reveals to us the nuance in mood and the type of consciousness with which Frédéric perceives and approaches the woman he thinks he loves. (RTD)

Denommé, Robert T
Volume 1978-1979 Fall-Winter; 7(1-2): 59-75.