The main reason for this definition of the genre specificity of the work is that in it these social processes and collisions are refracted through the prism of the consciousness and reactions of the central hero, his inner struggle and, finally, his dramatic fate. This hero, commoner “with a strikingly peculiar face,” refers to the energetic and ambitious youth from the social lower classes, which the Restoration regime threw to the backyard of society. A peasant son who accidentally received an education, Sorel obsessively seeks a social realization appropriate to his own merits, but the only possible way to achieve an ambitious goal for him is to adapt to someone else’s and hated society. Realizing that everywhere disguised selfishness and self-interest prevail, the hero decides to master the “science of hypocrisy” To take advantage of it in the struggle for your dream. The novel describes in detail how Julien, “wearing a uniform that fits the spirit of the times” and putting on the mask of the saint, is practicing this “science.”
Considering such actions of the decent nature of Julien forced, Stendhal imposes responsibility for them on the Restoration regime. However, some of his contemporaries understood the novel as the apology of hypocrisy and even inclined to identify the author with the character, prompted the writer to explain. “Julien is not at all as cunning as you think,” Stendhal wrote in
So, Julien’s unworthy actions are conditioned by the vital necessity created by the ruling regime. Hence the hero not only deification of Napoleon, but also the feeling that he was late with the birth and got into a strange and hostile era.
He really came from a different epoch, that era, raised the whole third estate to active historical life, awakened in him energy and the desire for self-knowledge of the individual, made education and culture accessible to young people. Julien’s idea of his opportunities and his proper place in society come from this era, he also formed an exorbitant ambition – the engine of his aspirations and actions, as well as “romanticism”, which will be discussed later. In a word, behind the conflict of Julien Sorel with his time and society is a large-scale conflict of historical eras, constantly interested in Stendhal. And it is not by chance that one of the most common “transcripts” of the title of the novel is based on comparison and conflict of epochs: red is a symbolic color for the era of revolution and Napoleonic wars,