The theme of money in H. Balzac - Honore de Balzac

Essays on literary works - 2023

The theme of money in H. Balzac
Honore de Balzac

The role of money in modern society is the main theme in Balzac's work.

Creating \"Human Comedy\", Balzac set himself a task still unknown to literature at that time. He strove for truthfulness and a merciless display of contemporary France, a display of the real, real life of his contemporaries.

One of the many themes that sound in his works is the theme of the destructive power of money over people, the gradual degradation of the soul under the influence of gold. This is especially clearly reflected in two famous works of Balzac - "Gobsek" and "Eugene Grandet".

Balzac's works have not lost their popularity in our time. They are popular both among young readers and among older people who draw from his works the art of understanding the human soul, seeking to understand historical events. And for these people, Balzac's books are a real storehouse of life experience.

The usurer Gobsek is the personification of the power of money. The love for gold, the thirst for enrichment, kill all human feelings in him, drown out all other principles.

The only thing he aspires to is to have more and more wealth. It seems absurd that a man who owns millions lives in poverty and, while collecting bills, prefers to walk without hiring a cab. But these actions are also due only to the desire to save at least a little money: living in poverty, Gobsek pays a tax of 7 francs with his millions.

Leading a modest, inconspicuous life, it would seem that he does not harm anyone and does not interfere in anything. But with those few people who turn to him for help, he is so merciless, so deaf to all their pleas, that he resembles some kind of soulless machine rather than a person. Gobsek does not try to get close to any person, he has no friends, the only people he meets are his professional partners. He knows that he has an heiress, a great-niece, but does not seek to find her. He does not want to know anything about her, because she is his heiress, and it is hard for Gobsek to think about heirs, because he cannot come to terms with the fact that he will someday die and part with his wealth.

Gobsek strives to spend his life energy as little as possible, which is why he does not worry, does not sympathize with people, always remains indifferent to everything around him.

Gobsek is convinced that only gold rules the world. However, the author endows him with some positive individual qualities. Gobsek is an intelligent, observant, insightful and strong-willed person. In many of Gobseck's judgments, we see the position of the author himself. So, he believes that an aristocrat is no better than a bourgeois, but he hides his vices under the guise of decency and virtue. And he takes cruel revenge on them, enjoying his power over them, watching how they kowtow to him when they cannot pay their bills.

Turning into the personification of the power of gold, Gobsek at the end of his life becomes pathetic and ridiculous: accumulated food and expensive art objects rot in the pantry, and he bargains with merchants for every penny, not inferior to them in price. Gobsek dies, his eyes fixed on the huge pile of gold in the fireplace.

Papa Grande is a stocky "good man" with a moving bump on his nose, a figure not as mysterious and fantastic as Gobsek. His biography is quite typical: having made his fortune in the troubled years of the revolution, Grande becomes one of the most eminent citizens of Saumur. No one in the city knows the true extent of his fortune, and his wealth is a source of pride for all the inhabitants of the town. However, the rich man Grande is distinguished by outward good nature, gentleness. For himself and his family, he regrets an extra piece of sugar, flour, firewood to heat in the house, he does not repair the stairs, because he feels sorry for the nail.

Despite all this, he loves his wife and daughter in his own way, he is not as lonely as Gobsek, he has a certain circle of acquaintances who periodically visit him and maintain good relations. But still, because of his exorbitant stinginess, Grande loses all trust in people, in the actions of those around him he sees only attempts to get hold of at his expense. He only pretends that he loves his brother and cares about his honor, but in reality he does only what is beneficial to him. He loves Nanette, but still shamelessly uses her kindness and devotion to him, exploits her mercilessly.

Passion for money makes him completely inhuman: he is afraid of the death of his wife because of the possibility of dividing property.

Taking advantage of his daughter's boundless trust, he forces her to renounce her inheritance. He perceives his wife and daughter as part of his property, so he is shocked that Evgenia herself dared to dispose of her gold. Grande cannot live without gold and often counts his wealth hidden in his study at night. Grande's insatiable greed is especially disgusting in the scene of his death: dying, he snatches a gilded cross from the priest's hands.