Essays on literary works - 2023
How modern is Balzac's hero Gobseck
Honore de Balzac
The story "Gobsek", written in 1830, can be considered the original seed from which the entire giant "Human Comedy" of Balzac grows. The image of Gobseck is one of the brightest human types found not only in the work of Balzac, but also in modern life. One of Gobsek's convictions, who knew life well in his youth and traveled to many countries, is that "man is the same everywhere": everywhere there is a struggle between the poor and the rich. And in this fight, “it’s better to push yourself than to allow yourself to be pushed.” 170 years after the release of the story, it can be added that a person is “the same” not only “everywhere”, but always, as long as gold, money are “the spiritual essence of society”. The vain desire of a person to keep up with others makes him sacrifice many values of life to the “golden idol”.
Gobsek - French moneylender, millionaire. The son of a Dutchman and a Jewish woman, he spent a romantically impoverished youth. “The wrinkles of his yellowish forehead kept the secret of terrible trials, sudden terrible events, unexpected good fortune.” Few people knew about his adventurous life. At the beginning of the story, Gobsek appears before us in the guise of a silent, cautious old man, dry and inconspicuous. He gives loans at interest to people in a difficult situation. In transactions with clients, he is honest, but relentless. The usurer amassed a huge fortune - seventy million francs. But he does not spend his wealth. Gobsek lives in a small apartment with a beggarly environment, eats cheap soup, hardly communicates with anyone except clients, never goes anywhere. Of all the joys of life, he chose one - power over other people, which is given to him by accumulated wealth and the craft of a usurer. “I own the world, and the world has no power over me,” he says in one of his monologues. And it doesn’t matter to him that the world for him has long shrunk to the size of a wretched apartment, and the “ruler” himself has turned into a “genderless creature”, a human bill, into a “golden idol”. “Does he know that there are feelings, love, happiness in the world?” Derville asks. Probably knows. But their value for him has faded in comparison with the power over people that money gives. In pursuit of them, he withered his soul, lost his abilities, became disillusioned with everything except gold. happiness?" Derville asks. Probably knows. But their value for him has faded in comparison with the power over people that money gives. In pursuit of them, he withered his soul, lost his abilities, became disillusioned with everything except gold. happiness?" Derville asks. Probably knows. But their value for him has faded in comparison with the power over people that money gives. In pursuit of them, he withered his soul, lost his abilities, became disillusioned with everything except gold.Without a doubt, the image of Gobsek has a grotesque character. His features: stinginess, insensitivity, passion for hoarding - brought to the point of absurdity. But they did not disappear with the death of Gobsek. The name of the Balzac hero has become a household name on a par with Plyushkin, the Miserly Knight. Gobsek's philosophy is shared by many people, while others, without any "philosophy", follow his path, devoting their lives to hoarding, forgetting not only about loved ones, but also about their own lives, where there is no room for anything but money.
Our contemporaries continue to play new dramatic roles in Balzac's Human Comedy. It is enough for some to surpass their neighbor in the ability to live, others need to redraw the maps of the world, kill and rob in order to satisfy their vain ambitions. And they do it, like Gobsek, with great artistry. Today's Gobsek can be found in the mask of an inhabitant, and the mask of a politician and businessman, and in the mask of a beggar in the subway crossing. Yes, and in our world, as in the time of Gobsek, coexist with enormous energy, a powerful mind, a taste for life, and deathly coldness, insensitivity, cruelty and pettiness. And it becomes more and more like the world of Gobsek in old age.