Monsieur de Renal, the mayor of the French town of Verrieres in the Franche-Comte district, a man who is smug and vain, informs his wife about the decision to take the tutor to the house. There is no special need for a tutor, just a local rich man, Mr. Valno, this vulgar screamer, always rivaling the mayor, is too proud of the new pair of Norman horses. Well, Mr. Valno has horses now, but there is no tutor. Mr. de Renal had already arranged with Papa Sorel that his youngest son would serve. The old cure, Mr. Shelan, recommended him the son of a carpenter as a young man of rare abilities who has been studying theology for three years and knows the Latin brilliantly. His name is Julien Sorel, he is eighteen years old; this is a short, fragile-looking young man whose face bears a stamp of striking originality. He has irregular, but delicate features, large black eyes, sparkling with fire and thought, and dark chestnut hair. Young girls glance at him with interest. Julien never went to school. Latin and history of his trained regimental physician, a participant in the Napoleonic campaigns. Dying, he bequeathed to him his love for Napoleon, the cross of the Legion of Honor and a few dozen books. Since childhood, Julien dreams of becoming a military man. In Napoleon’s time for a commoner, this was the surest way to make a career and get out into people. But times have changed. Julien realizes that the only way open before him is to become a priest. He is ambitious and proud,
Madame de Renal does not like her husband’s plan. She adores her three boys, and the thought that there will be some stranger between her and the children leads her into despair. She already draws in her imagination an abominable, rude, disheveled guy who is allowed to scream at her children and even flog them.
Imagine her surprise when she sees a pale, frightened boy in front of her, who seems to her to be unusually beautiful and very unhappy. However, not a month goes by, as everyone in the house, even Mr. de Renal, begins to treat him with respect. Julien holds with great dignity, and his knowledge of Latin is admired – he can recite any page of the New Testament.
The maid of Mme de Renal Eliza falls in love with the young tutor. In confession, she tells the abbe Shelan that she inherited and now wants to marry Julien. Cure is genuinely happy for his pet, but Julien resolutely refuses an enviable proposal. He is ambitious and dreams of glory, he wants to conquer Paris. However, he skillfully hides it.
In summer the family moves to Vergi, the village where the estate and the castle de Renalay is located. Here, Madame de Renal spends whole days with the children and the tutor. Julien seems to her smarter, kinder, nobler than all the men around her. She begins to understand that she loves Julien. But does he love her? After all, she is older than him for as long as ten years! Julien likes Madame de Renal. He finds her charming, he has never seen such women. But Julien is not in love at all. He wants to win Mme de Renal to assert himself and to take revenge on this self-righteous Mr. de Renal, who allows himself to talk with him indulgently and even rudely.
When Julien warns Mme de Renal that she will come to her bedroom at night, she answers him with the most sincere indignation. At night, when he leaves his room, he dies of fear, his knees buckle, but when he sees Madame de Renal, she seems so beautiful to him that all conceited ravings are taken from his head. Julien’s tears, his desperation, are defeated by Madame de Renal. It takes several days, and Julien with all the fervor of youth falls in love with her without a memory. Lovers happy, but unexpectedly seriously ill with the younger son of Madame de Renal. And the unhappy woman seems to be killing her son with her love for Julien. She realizes what sin she does before God, she is tormented by remorse. She pushes away Julien, who is shocked by the depth of her grief and despair. Fortunately, the child recovers.
Mr. de Renal does not suspect anything, but the servants know a lot. Elisa’s maid, seeing Mr. Valno on the street, tells him that her mistress has an affair with a young tutor. The same evening, Mr. de Renal receives an anonymous letter from which he learns what is happening in his house. Ms. de Renal manages to convince her husband of her innocence, but the whole city is only engaged in the history of her love affairs.
Julien’s mentor Abbot Shelane believes that he must at least a year leave the city – to his friend the timber merchant Fouquet or to the seminary in Besancon. Julien leaves from Vierrier, but three days later he returns to say goodbye to Madame de Renal. He makes his way to her room, but their date is overshadowed – it seems to them that they part forever.
Julien comes to Besancon and is to the rector of the seminary Abbot Pirard. He is very excited, besides, Pirard’s face is so ugly that it causes horror in him. For three hours the rector examines Julien and is so impressed by his knowledge of Latin and theology that he takes him to the seminary for a small stipend and even assigns to him a separate cell. This is a great mercy. But the seminarians amicably hate Julien: he is too talented and gives the impression of a thinking person – they do not forgive this. Julien must choose a confessor, and he chooses the abbot of Pirard, not even suspecting that this act will be decisive for him. The abbot is sincerely attached to his pupil, but Pirard’s position in the seminary is very fragile. His enemies the Jesuits are doing everything to force him to resign. Fortunately, he has a friend and patron at the court – an aristocrat from Franche-Comte Marquis de La Mole, whose errands the abbot is regularly carrying out. Learning about the persecution to which Pirard is subjected, the Marquis de La Mole invites him to move to the capital and promises one of the best parishes in the vicinity of Paris. Saying goodbye to Julien, the abbot foresees that difficult times await him. But Julien can not think of himself. Knowing that Pirard needs money, he offers him all his savings. Pyrard will not forget this. that Pirard needs money, he offers him all his savings. Pyrard will not forget this. that Pirard needs money, he offers him all his savings. Pyrard will not forget this.
The Marquis de La Mole, politician and grandee, enjoys great influence at court, he takes abbot Pirard in his Parisian mansion. In the conversation, he mentions that for several years he has been looking for an intelligent person who could have engaged in his correspondence. The Abbot offers to this place his pupil – a man of very low background, but energetic, intelligent, with a high soul. So before Julien Sorel opens an unexpected prospect – he can get to Paris!
Having received the invitation of the Marquis, Julien first travels to Verrieres, hoping to see Mme de Renal. He heard that lately she had fallen into the most frenzied piety. Despite many obstacles, he manages to penetrate into the room of his lover. She had never seemed so beautiful to him. However, her husband suspects something, and Julien is forced to flee.
Arriving in Paris, he primarily examines the places associated with the name of Napoleon, and only then goes to the abbot of Pirard. The abbot introduces Julien to the Marquise, and in the evening he sits at a common table. Opposite him sits a bright blonde, unusually slender, with very beautiful but cold eyes. Mademoiselle Matilda de La Mole clearly does not like Julien.
The new secretary is assimilated quickly: in three months the Marquis considers Julien quite suitable for himself. He works hard, silent, comprehensible and gradually begins to lead all the most difficult cases. He becomes a real dandy and completely mastered the art of living in Paris. The Marquis de La Mole gives Julien the Order. This calms the pride of Julien, now he keeps more relaxed and not so often feels insulted. But with Mademoiselle de La Mole he is emphatically cold. This nineteen-year-old girl is very intelligent, she is bored in the company of her aristocratic friends – Count Kelus, Viscount de Luza and the Marquise de Croisenois who pretends to her hand. Once a year, Matilda mourns. Julien is told that she does it in honor of the ancestor of the family of Boniface de La Mole, beloved Queen Margarita of Navarre, who was beheaded on April 30, 1574 on the Greva Square in Paris. Legend has it that the queen demanded from the hangman the head of her lover and buried her in her own in the chapel.
Julien sees that Matilda genuinely cares about this romantic story. Gradually, he stops evading conversations with Mademoiselle de La Mole. Conversations with her are so interesting that he even forgets his role as an outraged plebeian. “It would be funny,” he thinks, “if she fell in love with me.”
Matilda has long realized that she loves Julien. This love seems to her very heroic – the girl of her position loves the carpenter’s son! From the moment she realizes that she loves Julien, she ceases to be bored.
Julien himself rather stimulates his imagination than is carried away by love. But having received a letter from Mathilde with an explanation in love, he can not hide his triumph: he, a poor peasant, loves a noble lady, she preferred his aristocrat, the Marquis de Croisenois! Matilda is waiting for him at one o’clock in the morning. Julien seems that it is a trap, that Matilda’s friends want to kill him or put him to ridicule. Armed with pistols and a dagger, he penetrates into the room of Mademoiselle de La Mole. Matilda is submissive and tender, but the next day she is horrified at the thought that she became Julien’s mistress. Talking with him, she barely restrains anger and irritation. Julien’s self-esteem is offended, and they both decide that everything is over between them. But Julien feels that he fell madly in love with this wayward girl, that he can not live without her.
Julien’s acquaintance, the Russian prince Korazov, advises him to cause jealousy of his beloved and start courting some secular beauty. “The Russian plan,” to Julien’s surprise, works flawlessly, Matilda is jealous, she is again in love, and only a monstrous pride prevents her from making a step forward. Once Julien, without thinking of danger, puts a ladder to the window of Matilda. Seeing him, she falls into his arms.
Soon, Mademoiselle de La Mole tells Julien that she is pregnant and wants to marry him. Having learned about everything, the Marquis is infuriated. But Matilda insists, and the father finally surrenders. To avoid shame, the Marquis decides to create Julien’s brilliant position in society. He sought for him the patent of a hussar lieutenant in the name of Julien Sorel de La Vernet. Julien goes to his regiment. His joy is boundless – he dreams of a military career and his future son.
Suddenly he receives news from Paris: Matilda asks him to return immediately. When they meet, she hands him an envelope with a letter from Madame de Renal. It turns out that her father asked her to provide some information about the former tutor. The letter of Madame de Renal is monstrous. She writes about Julien as a hypocrite and careerist, capable of any meanness, just to get out into people. It is clear that M. de La Mole will never agree to his marriage with Matilda.
Not a word or word, Julien leaves Matilda, sits in the mail coach and rushes to Vierre. There he buys a gun in a gun shop, enters the church in Verrieres, where Sunday worship is held, and twice shoots Ms. de Renal.
Already in prison he learns that Madame de Renal is not killed, but only wounded. He is happy and feels that now he can die peacefully. After Julien, Matilda comes to Vierre. She uses all her connections, gives out money and promises in the hope of mitigating the verdict.
On the day of judgment, the whole province flows to Besancon. Julien is surprised to find that inspires all these people sincere pity. He wants to give up the last word, but something makes him rise. Julien does not ask the court for any mercy, because he understands that his main crime is that he, a commoner, was indignant over his miserable lot.
His fate is decided – the court takes Julien’s death sentence. In prison to Julien comes Madame de Renal. She says that her ill-conceived letter was written by her confessor. Never had Julien been so happy. He understands that Madame de Renal is the only woman he is capable of loving.
On the day of execution, he feels cheerful and courageous. Matilda de La Mole bury her beloved’s head with her own hands. And three days after the death of Julien, Madame de Renal dies.