Pere Goriot

Pere Goriot and Vautrin: Character Analysis of the Interplay Between Immorality and Success College

Through ‘Le Père Goriot’ Honoré de Balzac explores the antithetical nature of several ideals: love and wealth, social status and happiness, rebellion and obedience, and – what a reader may find to be the most intriguing – morality and success. Balzac seems to have conflicting thoughts about the idea of being morally corrupt in order to achieve great success, and this kind of inner conflict has been manifested in his creation of two opposing characters: Goriot and Vautrin.

Vautrin, who we later find out is actually the escaped prisoner Jacques Collin, lives in Madame Vauquer’s boarding house along with Goriot, Eugene Rastignac, Victorine, and several others. He is a rather obscure character, but it is quite apparent to the other residents that his past is riddled with some kind of darkness which he tries to conceal: “He set up his good humor, his obligingness, and his unfailing gayety as a barrier between himself and others; but through it gleamed from time to time alarming flashes of his hidden nature” (19). He is seen as a manipulative, greedy and morally corrupt man who will go to any great lengths to achieve great success.On their own, Vautrin’s defining qualities may often lead to the assumption that he is a definite...

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