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Monday, August 30, 2010

A Life Without Love

'How do you expect me to live in Paris without you?' said Frederic.  (His sadness had been reawakened by his friend's bitterness.)  'If I'd had a woman who loved me, I might have achieved great things.  What are you laughing at?  Love is the stuff of genius.  Great emotions produce great works of art.  I shall never go looking for the woman of my dreams  Anyways, even if I find her, she'll only reject me.  I am one of the disinherited, and I shall go to my grave with the powers of my soul untried.'  (Pt. 1, Ch. 2)

Frederic makes the above statement to his friend Deslauriers early in the novel.  Frederic is a young man of no motivation.  He blames his lack of drive on the absence of love in his life.  He is a whiner in that he complains about life ("tiring of this lonely life") but does little to change it.  Having given up law school, he begins a novel but gives it up, goes to the opera and is bored by it, and composes German waltzes but gives that up as well.  Wandering aimlessly, Frederic, led by his restlessness, chooses painting for an occupation because of the proximity it promises to Madame Arnoux, a married woman with whom he is infatuated.

As a person who wanders aimlessly and has no set plans for his life, Frederic leaves a lot to fate, at one point tossing a coin to decide whether to go visit Madame Arnoux.  Though his inheritance from his father is significantly less than he expected, he shows no motivation to work and is considered a disappointment by his neighbors.  Eventually, fate settles that he will be rich as his uncle's heir, which causes him to return to Paris where he declares he will do nothing in particular.

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