“Father Goriot”, analysis of the novel by Honore de Balzac

The novel “Father Goriot” was written by Honore de Balzac in 1832, published in 1834-1835, and subsequently entered the cycle of essays, bearing the title “The Human Comedy” (1815-1848). The central theme of the work was sincere fatherly love, which did not find a place in the corrupted Parisian society.

The literature problems of the novel include the debunking of the universal myth that fame and wealth can be achieved through honest labor. Throughout the story about this reflects one of the main characters of the work – a young student, Eugen de Rastiniac. The life story of father Goriot and his two daughters – Countess Anastasi de Resto and “banker” Dolphins de Nusingen passes before the eyes of the reader in an inseparable connection with the “secular training” of the young ambitious.

Before the appearance of Eugene de Rastignac in the boarding house “Maison Vauquer”, nobody took Goriot seriously. He was considered an old reveler and voluptuary who spent his fortune on young and noble mistresses. Eugene’s penetration into the high society of Parisian society revealed the ugly truth: exquisitely dressed beauties were the daughters of a former nobleman who made a fortune during the French bourgeois revolution. For each of them,  Goriot gave 500-600 thousand francs of dowry, but as soon as the girls became noble Parisian women they turned away from their poorly educated and not so rich father.

The story of the life of Goriot in the novel is actually a gravestone epitaph to a slowly agonizing hero. Formally, the vermicelli dies only at the end of the work, when he remains penniless and gets hit, realizing that he can no longer help his daughters. In fact, Goriot ceases to live as soon as he gives his heart and money to the children. The strength of fatherly love is such that, even on the verge of death, father Goriot, recognizing the harsh truth of life, nevertheless forgives his daughters and hopes only that he will go to heaven, from where he will be allowed to come to earth and follow the life of beloved ones.

Thrown out of the lives of daughters, the father, according to the Madame de Beauséant and her friend Countess de Lange, is an ordinary tragedy in the life of the high-society Parisian society, built on the principles of female depravity, male vanity and endless craving for wealth. According to Eugene’s cousin, only a cold-blooded person looking at men and women “as at the mail horses” can take their place in Saint-Germain suburb.  Madame de Beauséant warns the student against sincerity: in a world where everything is built on money and titles, in no case can real feelings be shown, and especially true love. A person in Paris society can be either an executioner or a victim and no third is given.

However, one of the guests of “Maison Vauquer” – a fugitive convict Jacques Collin, hiding under the name of Mr Water, trying to take a position outside the standard social positions of “stupid obedience” and “rebellion.” He considers himself a “higher order” person, and in Eugene he sees a kindred spirit. Criticism of the contemporary society of society is beyond the scope of high society and extends to all of humanity. According to the convict, “the person is the same everywhere, that above, that in the middle, that below”. The subsequent betrayal of the Waterma Mademoiselle Mishano once again confirms this point of view. An old maid who has lived in relative prosperity for a long time is no less greedy for money than Delphine de Nusingen, deprived of their husband. At the same time, in the character of Mishano, in addition to obvious self-interest, a certain female meanness, the desire to take revenge on the man, who called her “Cemetery Venus”, also comes to light. It seems that the wok also behaves like a wok with respect to daddy Goriot: rejected by him in a period of relative material well-being, she spreads rumors about a hero and tries in every way to humiliate him before other guests.

Eugen de Rastignac – a young, uncorrupted by the light of light, looking at the abomination taking place around him, at the end of the novel, decides to challenge the Parisian society. The student understands that both Madame de Beauséant and Vautrin were right: honesty in life can only be achieved by a poor, dreary funeral. In high society, people need each other only when they can give something in return: money, connections, titles, and a small amount of true love. The latter is the most precious currency for noble Parisian women who have independently deprived themselves of sincere affection by marriage of convenience.

Anastasi de Resto, Delphine de Nusingen, Madame de Beauséant, Countess de Lange – all ladies of high society have a love affair on the side. They truly love, with all the power of passion that Parisian women are capable of, but this love does not bring them happiness: the lover and father of most of the children of Anastasi, Count Maxim de Tray, draws money from their ladies to pay for card debts; Marquis d’Ajuda-Pinto is loyal to the Madame de Beauséant as long as he doesn’t get the party profitable for his marriage; Countess de Lange, her lover and completely abandoned, and did not appear on the forefront of the work; the love relationship of Dolphins and Eugene is based on the principle of mutually beneficial exchange: Eugene provides the Dolphin with a welcome in high society, Dolphin becomes the mistress, which is so necessary for any secular person.

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