Pere Goriot

Pere Goriot Analysis

Honore de Balzac’s novel "Father Goriot" was written in 1832, published in 1834-1835, and subsequently entered into a cycle of works, called "The Human Comedy" (1815-1848). The central theme of the work is a sincere paternal love, which has not found a place in the perverse Parisian society.

Fiction novel issues include debunking of the myth, which is common to all mankind, that a man can achieve fame and fortune in an honest way. Throughout the narrative one of the main characters, young student Eugène de Rastignac is wondering on this issue. The life story of Pere Goriot and his two daughters – the countess Anastasi de Resto and a bankress Dolphine de Nucingen – takes place in front of the reader's eyes in inseparable connection with the secular education of the young ambitionist.

Before Eugène de Rastignac’s appearance in the guesthouse "House Voke" papa Goriot was not taken seriously. He was considered as anold reveller and sensualist, who had squandered his fortune on the young and noble lovers. Eugene’s penetration into the beau monde of Parisian society has opened up the ugly truth: exquisitely dressed beauties were the daughters of the former manufacturer of vermicelli, who had made a fortune during the French Revolution. Father Goriot gave 500-600 thousand francs of dowry for each of them, but as soon as the girls turned into a noble Parisians, they turned away from their lowbrow and not very rich father.

The life story of Pere Goriot in the novel is actually a tombstone epitaph to a slowly agonizing hero. In a fact manufacturer of vermicelli dies only in the end of the novel, when he, left without a penny in his pocket, gets hit, and realizes that he cannot help his daughters any more. Figuratively Goriot stops living immediately, as soon as he gives his heart and money to his children. The power of father's love is so huge that even at death's door father Goriot, recognizing the harsh truth of life, however, forgives his daughters and hopes only that he will get to heaven, where he will be allowed to appear on the ground and follow the life of so admired by him creatures.

Discretion from the life of his own daughters, as Viscountess de Bosian and her friend the Countess de Langeais consider, is an ordinary tragedy in the life of the fashionable Parisian society, built on the principles of women's depravity , men's vanity and endless craving for wealth. According to Eugene’s cousin, only a cold-blooded person, who looks at men and women as at the post-horses, can take his place in the Faubourg Saint-Germain. Viscountess de Bosian warns the student of sincerity: in a world where everything is based on money and the title, you mustn’t show real feelings, and especially - true love. A person in Parisian society can be either an executioner or a victim, and there is no third.

However, one of the residents of “House Voke " - an escaped convict Jacques Collin, hiding under the name of Mr. Vautrin, tries to take a position outside of the standard public position of stupid obedience and rebellion. He considers himself as a man of the higher order and sees a soul mate in Eugene. Votren’s criticism of contemporary society is beyond the scope of beau monde and extends to whole mankind. As the escaped convict considers, people are the same everywhere: at the top, in the middle, at the bottom. The subsequent Vautrin’s betrayal of Mademoiselle Mishano once again confirms this point of view. The spinster, living for a long time in the relative abundance, is no less greedy for money, than Delphine de Nucingen is deprived of them by her husband. In the nature of Mishano, besides a sheer greed, emerges more of some women's meanness, the desire to take revenge on the man who called her "Venus cemetery". The widow Voke behaves towards Papa Gorio in the similar way: rejected by him still in a period of relative material well-being, she spreads the rumors about the hero and tries to humiliate him in front of other guests.

Eugène de Rastignac being pure and unspoiled by the society, looks at things happening around him, at the end of the novel decides to challenge the Parisian society. The student understands that both Viscountess de Bosian and Vautrin were right: only the poor, sad funeral can be reached with the help of honesty. The beau monde people need each other only when they can give something in return: money, communication, titles, and a little amount of real love. The last is the most precious currency of the Parisian noble women, who deprived themselves of sincere affection by marriages of convenience.

Anastasi de Resto, Delphine de Nucingen, Viscountess de Bosian, Madame de Langeais are all the fashionable ladies, who have an affair on the side. They love truly, with all the force of passion Parisian women are capable of, but this love does not bring them happiness: the lover and the father of most of Anastasi’s children, Count Maxime de Tri draws money from his lady to pay gambling debts; Marquis d'Ajuda-Pinto is faithful with Viscountess de Bosian till the advantageous match for the marriage appears for him; Countess de Langeais actually thrown by her lover, who did not appear in the foreground of the novel; Dolphin and Eugene’s affair is based on the principle of mutually beneficial exchange: Eugene provides Delphine wih reception in high society, Delphine becomes the mistress, who is so necessary to any secular person.

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