The image of the money-lender Hobsek Honore de Balzac creates, using the most complex gamut of realistic and romantic techniques. Therefore, the story, on the one hand, is perceived by the reader as a physiological essay, on the other – it clearly feels the romantic condensation of colors. This primarily relates to the image of the usurer Gobsek, in which, perhaps more than in any other of the images of the “Human Comedy,” the synthetic unity of the realistic and romantic principles of the creative manner of the writer was embodied.
The realistic clarity of the image of Gobsek is achieved by the writer due to the creation of a carefully drawn out background of the most complex social epoch, in the context of which the action of the story unfolds, and romanticism
We learn the history of Hobsec from the words of an honest and competent lawyer in business affairs of Dervil. To him, because of the framework composition of the novel, the writer confides the story about the usurer, who died just a few days ago. Using this artistic technique, Balzac achieves the emphasized objectivity of the narrative.
Dervilus tells in detail about the life of the usurer and his acquaintance with him. The reader can even compile a chronologically accurate autobiography of the protagonist of the story.
Jean-Esther van Gobsek was born in 1740 on the outskirts of Antwerp. Nationality: mother is Jewish, father is Dutch. In ten years he left his father’s house and began to wander around the world in search of happiness and wealth. I visited the East Indies and America. Profession: there is no definite one. In 1813, when the story begins, he was 73 years old. Gobsek died in Paris in 1829, 89 years of age. This date ends the action of the story.
Dervil very vividly describes the way of life, manners, the way of doing things and the very appearance of Gobsek.
Manners of the usurer, his gestures, gait, mechanical and soulless, cause a feeling that before you is not a person, but an automaton, a “golden image” that protects “vital energy, suppressing all human feelings.” The features of Gobsek’s picturesque face, motionless and dispassionate, “seemed cast from bronze,” “the sharp tip of a long nose… was like a borer”. “The face of this man can be called the lunar face, for his yellowish pallor was like the color of silver from which the gilding came from, the hair of a… moneylender was completely straight, always neatly combed and with a strong graying – ash gray.” “Man-bill” ran around Paris “on thin, lean, like a deer, legs,” ruthlessly collecting on bills.
To match his appearance, eluding the gaze, changing depending on the specific situation, and the environment surrounding Gobsek. He lived in a miserable room of a grim, damp house, once a monastery hotel. The central place in this strange shelter of the usurer was occupied by a table covered with peeling cloth. The smoking lamp on the old shabby pedestal adorned this gray wretched dwelling. Both the house and its tenant were strangely similar to each other – “just like a rock and an oyster sticking to it.”
The everyday appearance of his appearance and habitation contrasts sharply with the untold riches and some kind of supernatural power of this silent and outwardly invisible old man over the world. He secretly manages the banks, the affairs of the exchange, trade, loans, the fate of war and peace. Advocate Dervil Hobsec sometimes seems to be “a fantastic figure, the embodiment of the power of gold.”
Complex and contradictory feelings evoke the image of Gobsek from readers: he is both disgusting and magnificent. He repels, but does not cause contempt, and his outstanding natural qualities, his life force, are able to amaze the imagination of even people experienced and wise with life experience.
In the course of reading the story, the image of an outstanding and strong personality of the “Dutchman, worthy of Rembrandt’s brush” is becoming more and more evident. The Provincial Dervil, studying Hobsak, saw “behind the naked skull” of the usurer, “as yellow as the old marble,” romantic secrets, cruel vicissitudes, hunger and betrayal, trampled love, untold riches and ruin.
In his turbulent life, Gobsek was acquainted with Indian rajas and noble corsairs, met with politicians of the Anglo-French War period, Lord Hastings and Cornwels, “related to all the vicissitudes of the war for the independence of the United States.” According to Derville, Gobsek “sold diamonds or people, women or state secrets.” He took bribes from the former planters of Haiti, sought the treasures of the disappeared Indian tribes. Rich and ruined. I bought up stolen goods and speculated with pictures of old masters.
The present Gobsek is closely intertwined with his past, with those events that occurred outside the limits of the story. But without this past it is impossible to understand the image of the old usurer – a man without flesh and without passions, indifferent to the hustle and bustle of the whole world. This is how he appears before the reader on the pages of the Balzac story, wrapped in mystery, leaving in the past storms and apocalyptic upheavals that have become his life school. The dark mysterious past of Hobsek defined his worldview and life position, which shocked the notary Derville: “Of all the earthly goods, there is only one, sufficiently reliable, so that a person should chase him… It is… gold. To fulfill our whims and efforts. In gold everything is contained in the bud, and it gives everything in reality. “
It was necessary to go through death and humiliation, to face betrayal and meanness, to be disappointed in friends and relatives, to be sold and sell myself, not to believe anyone, even to myself, mercilessly to suppress all human feelings and learn to count, to see in every act a person not a heart attack, but a carefully concealed self-interest and selfishness, do not believe in God or the devil, finally, finally harden to elevate the following truth to the rank of the highest truth: “It is better to press yourself than let others to you avili “. And all this for the sake of gold, according to Gobsak, who gives power not illusory, and not only over man, but over his soul. “We would see a horrible picture if we could look into the souls of the heirs surrounding the deathbed,” Derville notes sadly. “How many intrigues,
Philosophy and life practice of Hobsec are not something out of the ordinary. His views and activities are legitimate. In the spirit of the ideas of his time, Gobsek believes that “money is a commodity that can be sold with a quiet conscience, expensive or cheap, depending on the circumstances.” A bailiff who charges a high interest for a loan is, in his opinion, a capitalist like everyone else another participant of profitable enterprises and speculation. ” So character and environment are connected in Balzac’s story into a single and inseparable whole. In the image of Gobsek, the writer achieves a typical generalization. Behavior and the life philosophy of the usurer appear before the readers as a result of Gobsak’s own observations of life and his own conclusions. To grasp the image of Gobsek is helped us by the “trusted” face of Balzac – Derville. This is his precise characteristics and deep observations reveal the inner essence of the image of Hobsak. “I understood perfectly,” Dervil said to us with his observations, “that if he has millions in the bank, then in his thoughts he could own all the countries that drove, ransacked, weighed, valued, and robbed.”
Balzac depicts his hero calm and contemplative. Hobsak does not care about human passions. More than 50 years ago, in Pondicherry, he was deceived by a woman, and the experience left a deep mark on his soul. And the reader suddenly realizes that Gobsek’s contemplation is not connected with the philosopher’s wisdom, but with the indifference of the jaded cynic. “Like me, my brethren all enjoyed, everyone was fed up and they love only power and money for the sake of owning power and money.” And as for conscience, even here Gobsek is cynically frank: “I am rich enough to buy the human conscience, to manage all-powerful ministers through their minions, from clerical ministers to mistresses. Is not this power? .. Is not power and pleasure are the essence of your new social order? “
Gobsek, being a “philosopher from the school of cynics,” does not hide his inner essence and only skillfully uses the current situation and human weaknesses in his own interests as a usurer. He is certainly a predator, but a predator recognizing the laws of the jungle for everyone without exception – regardless of the face: whether it is a brilliant and self-satisfied aristocrat or an honest hard worker. By the way, with the “chosen of this world” he acts especially ruthlessly. “If we reject its financial principles,” says Derville, “I am deeply convinced that outside these matters he is the person of the most scrupulous honesty in all of Paris.”
An attentive reader of the story Honore de Balzac, reflecting on the philosophy that Gobsek professes, can not help noticing the internal polemic of his reasoning. Sometimes it even seems that the moneylender argues with himself. “You believe everything, but I do not believe in anything,” he tells the young Dervil. “I… the principles changed according to circumstances… You’ll live with mine, find out…” Usually secretive and silent, Gobsek in the presence of honest Dervil as it were, justified. And his timid attempts to make friends with Derville and poorly concealed grief over the move of a young lawyer and, at last, constant visits to him – evidence that he is reaching out to people of a different order with qualities that do not at all correspond to his own life position. Fanny Malvo, whose image is opposed to his idea of universal venality, it causes sincere sympathy and respect in him. Derville and the Count de Resto, “trusting him without any tricks,” he responds with devotion to their interests.
And yet the Gobsek is alone. His manic passion for money, which in the last days of his life has reached a critical point, mercilessly destroys the moneylender as a person. The room, cluttered with expensive furniture, silver utensils, lamps, paintings, vases, books, and storerooms, clogged with rotten products, are grotesquely correlated with the inner essence of the soul of the usurer that is degrading in complete disbelief. “Where I’m leaving – I do not know, but I’m leaving here,” he says before his death.
What is the result, and what is the meaning of this person’s life? It is not by chance that he dies in the hands of Derville, who, although he was “rid of gratitude” with interest paid for the loan, hurried to the house of Hobsak at his first call to attend the “old friend”. To this simple question, maybe each of you will respond in different ways, and maybe he will not be able to answer at all. And yet, is there an answer? Let’s open once again the story of the great novelist. Remember how Gobsek instructed the young Dervil: “You will live with mine, you will find out…”
Literary studies have repeatedly noted the synchronous occurrence of identical themes in Balzac and Pushkin. It’s about one of Pushkin’s “Little Tragedies,” namely, “The Mean Knight” and the story of Balzac’s “Gobsek”. The monumentality of the images of Pushkin’s Baron and Balzac’s Gobsek brings together two artists of the word. Despite all the differences in the circumstances in which the characters of these characters are given, it is easy to find in their submission surprisingly similar moments. This is, first, the coveted, bordering with insanity admiration for one kind of jewelry; secondly, the conviction of the main characters is that gold gives unlimited power over the world.