History 242Friday 11:15-12:052/9/06 Stendhal’s Red and BlackThe narrator is first character introduced and the first to arrive in the small provincial town of Verrieres. He is described as a well traveled man and it is not clear in the beginning if he is the narrator the story or not. He describes the small town as thriving due largely to a successful nail factory. The owner of the factory, also mayor of the town, Mr.
M. de Renal is the second character introduced in the story. His presence is immediately recognized by the narrator upon entering the town.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
The narrator’s first description of the town is the “roaring machine, frightful in its appearance.” he describes,” ponderous hammers falling with a crash which makes the street shudder…” This unpleasant imagery is used to describe the mayor’s nail factory. The narrator then proceeds to describe in great detail the grandeur of the mayor’s home, land, and factory.
The narrator believes small towns and provinces like Verrieres are inferior to the larger, more sophisticated cities of the Post-Napoleonic era such as Paris. Stendhal emphasizes the narrator’s negative opinion toward small towns many times throughout the story. Early in the novel when the narrator travels to the outskirts of the town where walls are being built around Verrieres he responds disapprovingly proclaiming, “…for anyone who has lived in the great republic called Paris life in the provinces is unsupportable.” This statement indicates the narrator’s belief that to him the walls represent a closing off of outside influences, especially the ideals of the Enlightenment which he glorifies.
These ideals, however, were only present in larger European cities and not a necessity for small societies’ survival. Furthermore, this solidifies the narrator’s argument of ideals over necessity.Though the narrator holds himself in higher regard than the local townspeople he does seem impressed by the mayor’s properties describing them in great detail and showing subtle hints of admiration. He magnifies his superior opinion of himself by only identifying with the most powerful citizen in the town, the mayor. Still, he scrutinizes the mayor for being shameless in his displays of power and wealth. In actuality, the mayor and his ambitions seem to be the fabric holding the small province together.
The narrator is shallow in his arguments and only focuses on the town and the mayor as they seem on the surface. For example, he describes the nail factory as “frightening” implying.