The Parisian light after the Restoration was a rather motley society. The largest bourgeois tycoons, at the price of gold and marital contracts, penetrated the environment of hereditary aristocrats, who constantly needed their capital. “Blue Blood”, obsessed with the power of money and the thirst for luxury, willingly forsworn its dubious aristocratic principles for the sake of “big money”, allowing in its circle the newfound nobility. This phenomenon, typical of the Parisian light of the Restoration, was skillfully reproduced by Balzac on the pages of the novel “Gobsek”. “Mr. de Resto needs to be very rich, so that such a family as ours, agreed to be related to his mother,” – in the spirit of his time, declares the viscountess de Grandlieu.
Perfectly understanding in people, he evaluates them without error and quickly. The first time he saw Maxim de Tray, Gobsek “read on his face the whole future of the Countess” de Resto. Maxim de Tray and the Countess of Resto for the money “are ready with a head to plunge into the mud.” Even in Hobsak they cause a fastidious feeling.
“Idol of the World” Maxim de Tray for Gobsak is just “a subject that inspires… contempt, know-it-all and a round ignoramus, .. a breater more muddy than stained with blood.” Calling Maxim de Traya “a brilliant connecting link between the inmates of penal servitude and the people of the highest world,” Balzac, with deadly irony, lists the “virtues” of this idol of Parisian salons: “He inimitably wears a dress coat, inimitably rules the horses harnessed by a train.” And as Maxim plays cards, how he eats and drinks, you will not see such elegance of manners in the whole world, he knows the sense in racehorses, and in fashionable hats, and in pictures., Women are crazy about him. In a year he spends thousands of hundred, but not to hear that he had a seedy place or at least some kind of rent.
However, these two antipodes – Gobsek and Maxim de Tray – are tightly connected with each other by strong ties of social relations. And as a matter of fact, the moneylender has nothing to argue with the cynical remark that Maxim de Tray throws in the face of Gobsek: “But if it were not wasteful, what would you do? We are necessary to each other, both soul and body.”
The power of gold in the world in which they live determines their characters and relationships. But for Gobsak, at least until he runs into senile senility, money is just a commodity that allows him to buy everything. For the hereditary nobleman Maxim de Troy, money is something for which you can profitably sell even yourself. Therefore, he is confident in himself until he knows that he wants to buy. And while on such as he, in high society there will be demand, “his bills will always be paid.”
The thirst for luxury and pleasure drives these noble gentlemen to the pawnbroker. This thirst “makes them worthily steal millions, sell their homeland,” Gobsec states with contempt. And this same insatiable thirst is stronger than any, then the most sacred, feelings. Magnificent beauty, elegant secular lady Countess Anastasi de Resto, reminiscent of “one of the beautiful Herodias of Leonardo da Vinci brush,” strikes the reader with a contrast discrepancy of external beauty and inner emptiness. Her egoism and swagger, immorality and cruelty towards members of her own family arouse a vengeful sense of satisfaction in Gobsak, when he utters his inner monologue in the Countess’s house: “Pay for all this luxury, pay for your title, pay for your happiness… to protect their own wealth, the rich invented tribunals, judges, guillotine…
The ghost of poverty leads the Countess de Resto into a frenzy. Where only her imaginative upbringing, finesse, high-fashioned manners just disappear, when she searches for documents that can deprive her of her condition, she becomes a fury ready for any meanness. “Only the Earl let out a breath, his wife cracked all the cupboards, all the drawers of the desk, and the carpet around her densely covered the scraps of broken letters, the boxes were broken, the portfolios were cut – everywhere her foolish hands were groping… The corpse of Count de Resto lay face down, head to the wall, hanging over the bed, contemptuously discarded, like one of those envelopes that lay on the floor, for he was now just an unnecessary shell… The pillow was dropped, and on it still there was a trace of a female boot. “
The scene in the office of the deceased count is Balzac’s merciless verdict of the inner emptiness that the people of the circle of Countess de Rest and Maxim de Troya are trying to cover with noble origin and “dignified” stolen millions. The words of the deceased count were also prophetic to the Countess de Reste: “You were a bad wife, a bad daughter, you will be a bad mother…”
Having put representatives of the nobility in his novel alongside the bourgeoisie, Balzac brilliantly showed not only their mutual antagonism, but also their mutual interest in the existence of each other. The genius artist realistically accurately reflected in the artistic images of the story the essence of relations that determined the appearance of the Restoration era in France.