Eugene Onegin

Eugene Onegin Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Tatyana as the Moon (Symbol)

Tatyana becomes closely associated with the moon for her mysterious nature and love for walking in the moonlight. At the end of the novel, when she has left the countryside for Moscow, the moon represents her unique, genuine grace and beauty among the coquettish beauties of the city, who are like mere stars beside her.

Contemplation by the Graveside (Motif)

At the end of Chapter 2, Lensky mourns by the grave of the recently deceased Larin father and, remembering how the man played with him as a child and hoped to live to see him marry Olga, he is driven to write a poem to him. These reflections also stir him to write a poem to his own deceased parents and ponder the nature of human mortality. Then, the grave at the end of Chapter 6 and the beginning of Chapter 7 is Lensky's own. He himself will not live to marry Olga, and he shall have no poet to mourn him but Pushkin. Moreover, once Olga and Tatyana leave, only the shepherd will continue to visit grave. 

Onegin as Napoleon (Allegory)

In II.14, Pushkin describes Onegin via comparison to that great enemy of the Russians, Napoleon, whom he characterizes as manipulative and dismissive of emotions. Later on, this description will be confirmed by Tatyana's discovery of a bust of Napoleon in Onegin's study, which goes to explain his heartless treatment of Tatyana and seduction of Olga to rile Lensky.

Parties (Motif)

The novel opens with a glut of St. Petersburg parties, which Onegin has become bored of, and then moves to the countryside, where there are also parties, though of lesser sophistication. At one of these, Onegin meets Tatyana. At another one, which annoyingly reminds him of the bustling emptiness of the capital balls, he flirts with Olga to anger Lensky, leading to the fatal duel. In the end, it is at a ball in Moscow where Onegin reemerges and first catches glance of the new Grande Dame Tatyana. 

Sleigh Rides (Symbol)

Throughout the novel, sleigh rides represent bewildering movement. We first encounter Onegin as he rides through the streets of St. Petersburg from party to party, and soon he will tire of all the dazzling sights and sounds. Later on, Tatyana rides from the countryside to Moscow and is confronted with the great panoply of the city, which shocks her by its unfamiliarity.