The main theme of Balzac's work “Gobsek” - Honore de Balzac

Essays on literary works - 2023

The main theme of Balzac's work “Gobsek”
Honore de Balzac

Honore de Balzac entered world literature as an outstanding realist writer. It was he who conceived, perhaps the world's largest cycle of novels about the life of the whole society, which he called "The Human Comedy". And in fact, sometimes human efforts expended on trifles, wastefulness, anger, and frivolity seem comical. They look comical until they start ruining someone else's life. So, Anastasi de Resto's romance with a secular young man Maxim de Tray began as a light flirtation that does not cause trouble to anyone. But the shameless lover brazenly breaks into the life of the whole family, as the unprincipled Madame de Resto allowed him to do this. And now the honor of the family, the husband is neglected. Anastasi does not even think about children. Balzac seems to be watching this through the eyes of his hero, the usurer Gobsek. This is a smart man

At least in relation to other people's lives. When it comes to money, he has no equal. But here's a miracle: he lived his life not at all wisely. Gobsek did not even notice how money, which first gave him freedom, and then power over people, gradually became his goal, his idol, subordinated his whole life to accumulation, replaced his whole life. He understood that a person needs just so much money so as not to think about it every second. So Fanny Malva is satisfied with this amount, who borrows money from him for linen and threads to work with.

But she borrows as much as she can give, unlike Anastasi de Resto, who does not know the value of money, however, like all other values. The writer psychologically accurately portrays not only the actions of the characters, but also their motives. Balzac is rightly considered a connoisseur of human souls, since he managed to convey the subtlest notes of the souls of heroes, to look into the most hidden corners of the souls of his contemporaries, and, in the end, of all people. Reading his works is very interesting precisely because they are true to life and contain wise observations, answers to many questions that life will always put before everyone.

One of the most important moments of the entire work of the outstanding French realist Honore de Balzac was the desire to recreate a complete picture of the era. Almost all of his works, according to the writer's intention, were parts of the great epic "The Human Comedy", which was supposed to cover all possible phenomena of the life of that time. According to the plan, this epic cycle was to consist of three sections: “Etudes on Customs”, works that depicted the life, way of life and customs of different strata of French society, “Philosophical Studies”, which was supposed to summarize Balzac’s artistic discoveries and his idea of the regularity of life , and, finally, “Analytical Studies”, in which the writer tried to formulate the laws that govern reality.

In the first section (“Etudes on Customs”), Balzac created a gallery of the most typical images of his contemporaries, who had different social status and different professions. The story "Gobsek" is included in its composition. The name of the central character of this work - the usurer Gobsek - has become a household name. Nevertheless, it was in his image that A. Balzac not only described a typical usurer, but vividly reproduced a special psychological type of a person who lives with only one feeling - self-interest in its purest form. Money is the only goal, the only love and vocation of Gobsek. There are many images of self-interested people and misers in fiction, but they are not the same. The miserly knight of A. Pushkin really strives for power, money for him is only a means of achieving it. So he is more like a hidden lover of power than a real greed. Plushkin G. Gogol is a petty miser of the “domestic” type. It is no coincidence that people who do not want to throw away yesterday's newspaper or something like that are called “plushkins”: no one will compare them with Gobsek. This image summarizes completely different features of private property psychology, brought to its logical conclusion (although almost absurd from the point of view of a normal person).

Here is Gobsek's life philosophy: “What can satisfy our 'I', our vanity? Gold! Streams of gold. In order to satisfy our whims, time is needed, material possibilities and effort are needed, gold has all this, and it actually gives everything. At the same time, Gobsek does not try to take advantage of the possibilities of gold he mentioned, it is enough for him to have it. Not for something else. For Gobseck, there is no satisfaction other than the realization of his wealth.

Did he have other features? Through the brightness of the main characteristic, his life's most important task, they are almost imperceptible. “He was an automaton who was turned on every day,” Balzac writes about him. Even a person whom he seems to sympathize with, Gobsek lends money only on slightly softened terms than others, and even brings a kind of “ideological basis” to this act, they say, it will be more useful for his character. In general, people turn to usurers only in the most difficult moments of their lives, in despair, when there is no other source to get money. For example, when bankruptcy approaches, and banks refuse credit. In usury itself, as a phenomenon, something cruel was originally laid down, and Gobsek surpasses even his “colleagues” in this: watching people who are at an impasse becomes entertainment for him.

Gobsek, for all his limited goals, is, surprisingly, not primitive. He is able to draw conclusions about the nature of society, to analyze its destructive forces. He also knows the psychology of people. To draw a conclusion about the omnipotence of gold and create your own philosophy regarding this, you also need to be able to think. So, he is an intelligent person, but his passion is stronger than his mind. The power of gold, in which he so believed, makes Gobseck himself a victim, he creates a trap for himself.

What could be more absurd than starving to death in the midst of vast wealth? Gobsek is killed by his own idea of the omnipotence of gold and its immense value. He was so afraid of losing his property that he imperceptibly destroyed them in the physical sense: expensive fabrics, dishes, paintings - everything deteriorated, everything turned out to be lost to the world. If we take into account the presence of the author's intention, this deliberate external absurdity is the natural conclusion of such an attitude to life.

“Is there a God in this person?” - rhetorically asks another hero of the work, Derville. Yes, there is: this is Mammon, in other words, money. Gobsek gave life to serving this ideal. Balzac sternly and ruthlessly condemns the thirst for accumulation and the actual process of enriching a person. Gold does not bring happiness to either Gobseck or others. And even if the image of Gobsek is an isolated case, it testifies to what the path of self-interest leads to, and the artistic skill of the writer makes this warning even more convincing.