Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin Metaphors and Similes

Onegin as Prose, Lensky as Verse (Simile)

"Like verse with prose, like flame with fountain" (II.13)

In his introductions, Pushkin describes Onegin and Lensky by their respective literary inclinations: Onegin reads economic texts and Byron's novels, whereas Lensky reads German Romantic poetry and composes verses himself. Far from being casual details, these interests almost determine their characters, from Onegin's dry and clear mind to Lensky's fiery and naive heart. Pushkin uses these characterizations to comment upon the experiment with form that he is carrying out in his novel-in-verse. 

Lensky's Drunken Love (Metaphor)

"Inebriated lover,/ Confused with tender shame the while" (IV.25)

While at Olga's side, Lensky seems slightly out of his senses, sometimes involuntarily making shows of affection and even forgetting how to play chess. In this state of poetic love, he only knows to compose verses for her and read with her. Later on, the night before the duel, Lensky will fall into an even more confused state, in which his love for Olga and poet's dread of death mingle together to muddle his mind.

Springtime for Onegin (Metaphor)

"With spring he felt rejuvenated" (VIII.39)

After retreating into his den for the winter, tormented by the cold rejection he received from Tatyana, Onegin reemerges revitalized and hastens directly to Tatyana's house. With all the rooms empty, he passes through them quickly and then enters upon Tatyana crying and reading his letters. This sudden burst of energy, which was in a way pent up over the course of the winter, is one of the few times that Onegin is carried away by his emotions.

Youthful Rhyme (Metaphor)

"And where has youth (glib rhyme) been banished?" (VI.44)

Pushkin associates his rhyme and poetry with his younger years as a poetic prodigy, which is also where the character of Lensky arises. However, he expresses his desire to move on to the more mature form of prose, while nevertheless feeling nostalgia for the blithe art of his youth.

Onegin's Yawning (Metaphor)

From the very beginning of the novel, Onegin is plagued by boredom. Whether at a ball or ballet, he yawns frequently, being aware of the emptiness of the spectacle and frustrated by its repetition. Lensky notices these yawns on their way back from Tatyana's name-day party, and when he points it out to Onegin, his friend says that it is only a habit. The detachment from human relations, of which the boredom is one manifestation, causes Onegin to act callously and sometimes even manipulatively, as he does with Tatyana and Lensky.