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Julien's Stairway up in Society

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Julien's Stairway Up in Society

Julien Sorel might have been born to a lowly carpenter father, who with his two other sons abused and beat up Julien often, but his fascination with books and Napoleon gave him a way to begin working his way out of that situation. Studying with the local Catholic Curé, working in the home of M. de Rênal, befriending Abbé Pirard at the seminary, and then getting the job as Marquis de La Mole's secretary were arguably some of Julien's largest steps. Nearly all of the steps he takes indicate something about the workings of French society in the 19th century, allowing us a look into the culture even while using a fictional story.

Not being able to pay for a true schooling education, and not wanting to go into business with his father, Julien decided to study the Bible and Latin with his local Curé. Due to this being after the bloody French Revolution, people were afraid of another Robespierre coming to power. Anyone reading too much into his old ideas was labeled an "Ultra" and that was a dangerous thing for reputations. People wanted to distance themselves from the Revolution's Ideals and therefore religion became more important again. Very few people knew the bible as well as Julien came to know it, and even fewer in Latin. While this skill alone didn't shoot him into the top of society is was the first step and without it, he would have never gotten anywhere.

Knowing very little beyond the Bible in Latin (perfectly by memory) he was still able to get a job tutoring the children of M. de Rênal, the mayor of Verrières. Impressing them with is memorization skills; he was officially hired and paid a good amount in addition to living in their home and dressing well. Nervous at first being in a home so much nicer than he was used to, he soon became accustom to it. He became well known in the little town he lived in, as no other families had a tutor as good as him. Being more cultured, educated, and well dressed he was already no longer a peasant in the eyes of many. He never fit the role of peasant either, always being more of a member of upper middle class. While living in the home of M. De Rênal he became romantically involved with Mme de Rênal, the wife of the mayor. He was originally attracted to her for the conversations and companionship it grew to become much more. Realizing the danger (both social and bodily) of the affair, Mme de Rênal was able to make Julien leave for the seminary in a nearby town. The affair gives a great look into the rights that men had, and more exactly rich and influential men. M. de Rênal would have been able to kill both Julien and his wife without repercussion. Mme. De Rênal because she was a women and was therefore his, and Julien because he was of much lower class and M. de Rênal was the mayor. While he might not have had legal repercussions from choosing



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