In the spiritual quest of Julien Sorel, several stages can be distinguished: life in Verrieres in his family, and then a tutor in the family of the mayor of M. de Renal; stay in the Besançon theological seminary; Paris, the mansion of the Marquis de La Mole; crime and remorse in prison.
The most difficult period in the spiritual development of the protagonist was the Besancon period.
The idea of becoming a priest arose in Verrieres, when Julien realized that there was no other way to achieve a career for him, a commoner. He was never devout, but he really wanted to get to the top. And although he entered the Besançon seminary without special hunt, he tried to make efforts of will and mind to achieve the goal.
Entering Besançon, Julien dreams of meeting intelligent and noble people there, but he did not know that the mind and knowledge in the seminary had to be concealed in order not to cause hatred. Julien was only a poor country boy who did not have any great patrons. The only thing he had was a letter of recommendation from the faithful priest Shelan. Arriving in Besançon, Sorel went to the gates of the seminary, saw an iron gilded cross on them and thought: “Here it is, this earthly hell, from which I no longer quit!” And he was not far from the truth.
The seminary was full of total surveillance, denunciation and ostentation of piety. Talented seminarians were few, most were dark ignoramuses. Julien kept away from them, as well as they from him. He wanted to succeed in teaching, but soon he was made clear that “being the first in various subjects… was considered a sin of pride… the progress in the sciences seemed suspicious… humility is above all…” Each important step he carefully pondered, but nevertheless managed to pass for a freethinker…... Julien was sinful in that he meditated, judged, and did not obey authorities. The young man thought that he had passed the real science of life in Verrieres, but it turned out that it was only a preparation for life. And Julien decided to carefully monitor himself, not to miss. What a hellish labor it was – to hypocrite every minute!
He made a lot of efforts to ensure that his view was not “thinking”, so that the look was full of faith in God. Unfortunately for himself, it was a bad turn for him, which gave the seminarians an opportunity to hate him. His eloquence, his white hands, his excessive tidiness – everything caused hatred for him.
He was given a nickname that terrified everyone – Martin Luther. And yet the hour came when Julien was appreciated and received the first promotion – appointed tutor for the New and Old Testaments.
Every day Julien was experienced by seminarians, then educators. At the exam he responded brilliantly, but one of the opponents of the abbe Pirard asked him about Horace. Sorel answered confidently, but only then realized the catch: this author was not honored in the seminary. Julien determined the 1980th place.
The attitude towards the young man changed after he received as a gift from the bishop eight volumes of Tacitus’ writings. “From that moment no one dared to find out envy: they were obviously fawning on him.” However, the abbot of Pirard left the seminary, voluntarily resigned his post, which upset, perhaps, only one Julien. But this same event helped Sorel to break out of the seminary.
Abbot Pirard recommended the Marquis de La Mole Julien Sorel as a very clever young man, and Julien was invited to move to Paris.
“Finally, it’s time to appear in the arena of great events,” thought Julien Sorel. A new life began, new brilliant prospects opened…