The character of the protagonist of the novel by Honore de Balzac “Gobsek” - Honore de Balzac

Essays on literary works - 2023

The character of the protagonist of the novel by Honore de Balzac “Gobsek”
Honore de Balzac

Experience convinces us that it is very difficult to comprehend the image of the main character of the story, since it is very difficult to understand the “Romantic and realistic features of the ambiguous image of the “philosopher and miser” Gobsek”. Combining the features of romanticism and realism in Balzac’s “artistic system” in general and in the story “Gobsek” in particular increases the psychological persuasiveness of the images created by the writer, which, on the one hand, significantly complicates their study, on the other hand, makes this study more interesting, more attractive. . Let us consider how the description of his appearance, presented by the writer in the story, characterizes Gobsek-Man.

Gobseck’s attitude to things is best traced by the example of describing his housing: “His room, where everything was neat and shabby, starting from the green cloth on the desk to the carpet over the bed, jumped up on the cold housing of the old diva, who erases gunpowder all day from your furniture. In winter, firebrands in the fireplace, always sprinkled with a pile of ashes, smoked, once not bursting into flames. This is how our acquaintance with Gobsek begins, that very fireplace becomes the last thing we see in the room of the almost dead usurer, who “looked at the fireplace, so cold”.

The ascetic living conditions of this extremely wealthy person, on the one hand, emphasize his ability to distinguish the real values of life from the artificial ones, on the other hand, create an idea of the strong character of a person who is able to abandon the external for the sake of embodying his life philosophy, achieving the main goal for account of the rejection of secondary things.

When we read the description of Gobsek's appearance, we cannot but pay attention to what Balzac, through the lips of Derville, consciously emphasizes, you can call it this way, the “metal” of his face: “... a dull face, with the permission of the Academy, I would call it a monthly face, so how it threw itself onto gilded silver, from which the gilding came off ... The features of his face, unshakable, cold, as in Talleyrand, were tongues poured out of bronze. Moreover, it should be noted that this “metal” of Gobsek’s appearance appears not only as an external sign, it is also a leading characteristic of the protagonist’s soul: “In the evening, a person-promissory note became an ordinary person, and an ingot of metal in her chest became a human heart.” It is noteworthy that in order to describe the appearance and inner world of the hero, the author refers to comparisons that are associated exclusively with valuable metals: gold, silver, bronze. More often than not, gold is mentioned for everything, and this is no coincidence.Let us recall that Gobsek, quite sincerely, one might say, frankly expounding to Derville his views on life, on relations between people, on the main forces that, in his opinion, ensure the existence of both the world in general and the individual in particular. He emphasizes because gold itself determines the essence of modern society: “... of all earthly goods, there is only one, quite reliable, for a person to strive for it. Is this gold. All human powers are embodied in gold.”

It is also necessary to pay attention to the fact that Gobsek, a “man-automaton”, for whom, according to Derville, “all life was reduced to gold”, also creates a kind of “philosophy of the power of gold” over people and humanity. According to this philosophy, as Gobsek quite convincingly proves to Derville, gold is not only the material, but also the spiritual ruler of the modern heroes of society: “Gold is the spiritual essence of the whole real society.”

And his story about how he used his power over Anastasi de Resto to ruthlessly humiliate a woman who belongs to the “high society” confirms this philosophy of life. Derville is convinced that Gobseck's views are becoming convincing, in which he frankly confesses after a conversation with an old usurer, who recently aroused only pity in him: “I returned to my room completely stunned. This little thin old man suddenly grew in my eyes, became a fantastic figure, the embodiment of the power of gold. Life and people terrified me at that moment.

At first glance, it seems that Gobsek professes only the cult of gold, that the very possession of gold, wealth becomes for him the main goal of life. At least one gets the impression that this is what he is trying to convince Derville. However, as it turns out later, he needs “heaps of gold” first of all so that with his help he can bring his own significance, confirm to himself and others that he is an extraordinary person who has not so much material as spiritual power over all who surrounds her. Here is what he says to Derville: “My look is like in the Lord God - I read in the hearts. Nothing can be hidden from me. And how can they refuse something, therefore, who has a bag in his hands; gold”