Do you need a person to be happy? To assert itself in life? To feel like a master of life? What should I prefer in life: feelings or money, empathy or calculation, power over oneself or power over others?
On these and other questions, Honore Balzac tried to answer in his novel “Gobsek”.
In the center of the work is the money lender Gobsek, who belongs to the ten richest people in Paris. Gobsek – “man-bill”, “man-machine”, which inspires fear and horror of creditors. Gobsek is an “animator”. But after all, in his youth he was a life-loving young man, endowed with a natural desire to assert himself in life. He was able to feel, love, empathize. However, in this life he had to face many people: “the wrinkles of his yellow forehead kept the secret of terrible trials, sudden terrible events, hungry days, unexpected successes, trampled love, wealth, ruin…”
After experiencing all the vicissitudes of life, seeing life and people in their undisguised nakedness, having lost faith in kindness and love, Gobsek realized that there is only one reliable earthly good that has the highest value – this is gold.
He was left alone. He had no friends or family, he broke ties with all relatives and even thought he did not admit that anyone would take possession of his condition even after his death… Gobsak silenced his heart: no love, no pity, no compassion. And when some feelings awoke
Gobsek is not just a money-grubber. It was surprisingly combined “philosopher and miser”. His essence is vanity. “Vanity is always our” I “,” asserted the hero. He did not believe in any beliefs and principles, he recognized the struggle of the poor and the rich as senseless and therefore decided that it was better to exploit yourself than to be exploited. And in order to exploit, you need money, gold. Gold became the meaning of his life. For gold gives the right to “rule”.
“I own the world, and the world does not have power over me,” Gobsec proudly declares. But, possessing immense wealth, he remained a deeply lonely old man. Has this wealth brought him happiness? As you can see, no. Passion for gold won in Gobsek and philosopher, and man.
The solicitor Derville, reflecting on the destiny and character of the usurer, says: “Does he know that in the world there are feelings, love, happiness?” “Is it all about money?” he asks a rhetorical question. Unfortunately, in our time many of Gobsak’s words turn out to be quite relevant, but I still think that no, it’s not all about money. At least because “the rich are crying too” …