"An unknown power seemed to be drawing him back there all the time."
This quote, taken from the end of the second part of the story, speaks to the otherworldly quality that takes possession of Hermann and keeps bringing him back to the Countess's house. This "unknown power" could simply be greed and obsession, but it could also suggest a supernatural force exerting influence over Hermann's life.
"...she rushed across to the window—and the officer was standing in the same place, staring up at her. She backed away, tormented by curiosity and excitement—a completely new feeling."
In this passage, Liza is working out her feelings toward Hermann and the attention he gives her by standing on the street and looking up at her window. The reader knows Hermann has ulterior motives, and thus Liza's impulse to back away from him looks like a good instinct. However, her anxious and conflicted excitement thrills her; she finds the unknown risk of new feelings that Hermann provokes appealing.
"Chaplitsky staked fifty thousand on the first card—a straight win—and by doubling and redoubling he recouped all his losses, with a bit left over... Anyway, it's bedtime. A quarter to six."
At the end of his long story about the Countess, Tomsky neglects to reveal the fate of the one man to whom she gave her magic faro formula. This passage is significant because the missing piece of information could have been key to Hermann, and might have warned him against seeking riches through a potentially cursed sequence of cards. By leaving his story on a cliffhanger, Tomsky foreshadows an ominous outcome for Hermann's quest to discover and the secret and make himself fabulously rich.
"I'm very interested in gambling, ... but I'm in no situation to sacrifice what is essential in the hope of winning something superfluous."
In this passage, taken from the beginning of the story, Hermann defends why he never gambles. His literal meaning is that he has calculated the risk and can't sacrifice his only savings or his salary to attain riches that are superfluous to his current lifestyle. However, his words resonate later in the story as having a double-meaning: Hermann sacrifices his essential humanity in order to get fabulously rich, and he loses not just his money but his sanity as a result.
"At that moment it seemed to him that the deceased woman was looking at him mockingly and winking with one eye."
While paying his respects at the Countess's open-casket funeral, Hermann discovers that the Countess is winking at him as she lies dead. This passage is significant because it marks the point at which the story goes beyond its realistic boundaries and incorporates surreal elements of the supernatural.
"At that moment he seemed to see the queen of spades winking and smiling at him. He was struck by an extraordinary likeness..."
After mistakenly losing everything by betting on the queen rather than the ace, Hermann sees the queen wink at him from the game board. He notices that she resembles the Countess who winked at him from her coffin. The resemblance is significant because it suggests that the Countess has fooled him from beyond the grave as punishment for having frightened her to death. While Hermann doesn't lose his life, he does lose his mind.
The Queen of Spades Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Queen of Spades is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.