Young and ambitious Julien Sorel seeks to make a career in a brutal, hostile society. To achieve this goal, he has no means and possibilities, except hypocrisy, whose “art” he is compelled to master in order to adapt to the hated environment. Constantly feeling surrounded by enemies, Julien closely monitors each step, acts all the time and speaks against his convictions and moral nature. An exhausting struggle with himself that goes in his mind, Stendhal equates to “the exploits of Hercules.”
To observe the chosen “tactics” to the hero is not only difficult, but also disgusting, and this introduces into his destiny an inner drama that is increasingly deepening towards the end of the work and gaining a tragic sound. What happened to Sorel, acquires
The defining feature of Julien Sorel, which distinguishes him from his surroundings, is that he does not enter the fight against society for the sake of career and enrichment. By analogy with the characters of Balzac’s novels, this hero is often defined as a careerist, but the incentives for his behavior are distinctly different from those of Balzac’s heroes. Stendhal did not accidentally call Julien’s motives and actions “insanity” and was proud of the fact that, for all their unusualness, they do not seem so. Here it is worth noting that, when calling Sorel “a madman,” the writer like “reproduced” the point of view of sensible inhabitants, whereas in his eyes this was a positive trait of the hero, akin to romantic enthusiasm.
With many facets of his character and his fate, Julien