What is life if not a machine driven by money - Honore de Balzac

Essays on literary works - 2023

What is life if not a machine driven by money
Honore de Balzac

The image of a miser and a hoarder is not new in world literature. A similar type is depicted in the drama - "The Merchant of Venice" by W. Shakespeare and in the comedy "The Miser" by J. B. Moliere.

Observations on the life of bourgeois society led to the creation of the image of Gobseck, some moments of the story are autobiographical. The hero of Balzac studies at the Faculty of Law at the Sorbonne and works as a clerk in the attorney's office, where he learns a lot from the practice of monetary relations.

In his story, Balzac confronts two philosophical points of view, two views on life: Gobsek and Derville.

Here is Gobsek's point of view: "Of all earthly goods, there is only one that is reliable enough to make it worth a person to chase after it. This is ... gold. To fulfill our whims, we need time, we need material opportunities and efforts. In gold, everything is contained in the embryo , and it gives everything in reality." Derville thinks differently: "Is it really all about money?" And in his words: "Life and people inspired me at that moment with horror" we feel that Derville does not accept the philosophy of Gobsek.

In translation, "Gobsek" means "liver". And the whole work is a vivid confirmation of this. And the main rule, from which the Balzac hero never deviates, can be formulated as follows: "Do not feel sorry for anyone, do not help anyone, but use everything that you can take for free." The fact that the path to wealth necessarily involves cruelty does not bother him. He knows no mercy for those with whom he does business. “Sometimes his victims were indignant, raised a frantic cry, then suddenly there was dead silence, like in a kitchen when a duck is slaughtered in it,” says Balzac. Gobsek, with impeccable scrupulousness, refers to the execution of all documents, accounting receipts, receipts and their implementation. This is appreciated in the commercial world. For him there is a deal, a benefit, but not a person. Gobsek studied the psychology of people well,

He made millions for himself in dirty ways. He bought stolen goods, as he did with the Comtesse de Restaud's family diamonds. He was engaged in speculation with paintings by old masters and everything that debtors carried to him. He took bribes from former Haitian planters to liquidate their property. And these mysterious 20 years in the East Indies, where Gobsek grew rich and ruined, and subsequent years, when, according to Derville, he "traded in diamonds or people, women or state secrets."

The last picture drawn by Balzac in "Gobsek" makes a great impression: "We would see a hidden picture if we could look into the souls of the heirs surrounding the deathbed. How many intrigues, calculations, malicious tricks are there - and all because of money."

The short story depicts a grotesque ugly figure of the true master of life, an example of a huge generalizing power: a usurer, a money maker. The whole extraordinary stock of feelings is subordinated to one single goal: to accumulate as many material resources as possible, and to own them undividedly, as long as possible. However, after reading the work of Balzac, you are convinced that there are other values in the world. Health, love, friendship can not be bought for any money.