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“The Red and the Black” by Stendhal


The Red and the Black is a novel by Stendhal, and it is also called The chronicle of the XIX century. The book reveals the tragic story of Julien Sorel, “in whose soul there is a struggle between natural nobility and dangerous ghosts of ambition” (Stendahl, 1967). The plot is based on the history of the spiritual life of the hero, and the formation of his character, which is presented in a complex and dramatic interaction with the social environment. The plot is guided not by intrigue but by an action that is transferred to the soul and mind of Julien, who constantly strictly analyzes the situation and himself in it before daring to act, which determines the further development of events. The ideal for Julien is Napoleon, whose example, according to Stendhal, “generated in France a crazy and, of course, unfortunate ambition.” (Stendahl, 1967). Two women played a significant role in the life and destiny of Julien Sorel. It was Gentle and loving Madame de Renal, who was the only one who treated him as an equal and with whom he allowed himself to be himself, and the proud, beautiful Matilda de La Mole who was as ambitious as Julien, powerful, intelligent, energetic and capable of extraordinary deeds.

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Once in prison after the failed assassination attempt on Madame de Renal, Julien seemed to see all the illusoriness of his ambitious career aspirations, with which he had recently associated the idea of ​​happiness. He realized that his love for Madame de Renal and her love for him was a natural gift of fate. The tragedy of the hero of the novel “Red and Black” – is in the fatal mismatch of efforts that he made to realize his ambitious plans, and the shameful false world, that he so sought to conquer. Therefore, the inner monologues of the hero are especially important in the novel.

Commentary on the Psychological Components

There are five terms related to them to the character:

  1. Tension is a state of mental or emotional overstrain or tension.
  2. Personal identity is an expressive personality of a human, which is considered a stable entity.
  3. High self-esteem is a sense of pride in oneself.
  4. Introspection is the contemplation of one’s thoughts and desires, and behavior.
  5. The ability to solve problems as thought processes are involved in solving a problem (Psychology Terms, n.d.).

In the novel The Red and the Black, Stendhal created a psychological portrait of a talented young man. The tension is manifested in the fact that Julien is exhausted by the suffocation of the Restoration era, a closed caste society where people equally hate both truth and energy. The primary way to create the character of the protagonist Stendhal chose the disclosure of his inner world, personal identity, and high self-esteem. The writer used various psychologisms such as the hero’s language, self-esteem, internal monologues, dreams, and portrait characteristics.

Stendhal’s successful discovery is also the fact that in the image of Julien as if two people are united: one-acts, and the other observes, while not constantly approving the words and deeds of his double. After The Red and the Black psychological analysis and introspection became a characteristic feature of the realistic European novel. The psychological thinking of the hero is depicted by the fact that the protagonist of Stendhal’s book The Red and the Black is not just trying to realize himself. Julien Sorel seeks recognition of his intellect and abilities and dreams of taking one of the highest places in society. However, he is a “plebeian,” and therefore, all prospects for him are closed despite his natural talents. This is the reason for the potential protest in the soul and actions of Julien and his desire to challenge fate. He boldly solves all problems in his path.

Review of the Book

The novel The Red and the Black brings up lots of feelings and life lessons. First of all, the book described the problem of conflict between man and society. When a person goes against his origin and environment, his fate is tragic: he cannot adapt to the world around him and find his way. Another problem that affected me was the problem of social injustice, which is central to the novel. A talented commoner cannot penetrate the higher world, although he is a more intelligent and capable nobility. This man also does not find himself in his environment: he is hated even in the family.

The novel The Red and the Black made me think about the problem of the aristocracy. The author emphasizes that France, which is under the oppression of hereditary nobles, is not developing because new gifted people do not fall into the ruling elite. Talents and intelligence are not always inherited in aristocratic homes. As a result, unworthy people are in power. I liked the fact that the book ridicules the problem of pride and arrogance. Julien himself is to blame for his misfortune: people have distanced themselves from him because he has pushed them away from him, wanting to rise and despise his circle of communication. The novel also depicts the problem of education. Julien’s enlightenment led to ridicule from those around him, and he could not realize his full potential. Thus, I liked the book because the author reveals many social problems using psychological techniques discussed in class.

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Stendahl, M.-H. B. (1967). The Red and the Black. Cliff’s Notes. Psychology Terms, n.d. Web.

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