The moral fall of Eugène de Rastignac

The theme of the “damned passion” for gold is intertwined in the novel “Father Gorio” with another no less important topic that can be formulated as a problem of the moral formation of the personality. The artistic study of this problem is central to the entire epic cycle of the novels of “Human Comedy.” And the first meeting of the reader with one of the central heroes of this cycle occurs precisely in the novel “Father Gorio”, and precisely at the time of his moral formation.

Eugene de Rastignac, the son of an impoverished aristocratic family, comes from the French province to the capital with big and ambitious plans. Honest, sincere, tenderly attached to his family, the young man encounters the cruel world of owners, with that luxury and thirst for pleasure that “exudes like an infection”, Paris – the capital of contrasts, “the new Babylon,” the “universal whore.”

The first meeting

with Paris causes Rastignac a lot of conflicting feelings. He, accustomed to the fact that “the family eats not so much white bread as a stew of chestnuts, dad protects his pants, mothers – on the strength of one dress for winter and one for summer, and the sisters go where they have to,” stunned by sharp contrast between his wretched existence and the splendor of Parisian light, where he finds himself due to kinship with the high-necked viscountess Bosean.

The aristocratic mansions of Saint-Germain instantly took hold of the young man’s imagination, and “the demon of luxury wounded his heart.” He longs for happiness, and happiness is there, beyond the gates of these wealthy mansions. There’s life, there’s a career, gold, fame, recognition. He is ambitious enough and clever, and he has a chance. Here is only one unfortunate trifle: he has only one hundred and thirty francs for three months of life. This is catastrophically small to make the first step to success. We need money, we need decent suits, which allow us to visit aristocratic salons. But where do you get


“Fever of gain” gradually, but surely takes possession of the soul of a young provincial. And Rastignac performs the first, as yet innocent, cruelty. Perfectly understanding that he encroaches on the last pennies of his parents, he turns to his mother for help. But at the same time, he does not yet realize how immoral his request is. “To win the light” is still a matter of honor for him, and his own egoistic aspirations are justified by a passionate desire to realize the hopes placed on him by the family. “It’s about whether,” he writes to his mother, “will I try my way or stay floundering in the mud, I know how many hopes you have placed on me, I want to implement them quickly.”

The world, which Eugène de Rastignac decided to conquer, causes at the same time both revulsion and admiration. The honest heart of a poor young man, shocked by the fate of old Gorio, appeals to revenge: he is ready to strike this cruel society with a sensible blow. Resentment and compassion instill in him the determination to defeat the upper light, but at the same time he comes to an immoral conclusion – to achieve this goal, all means are good. He does not even suspect that this path will inevitably lead him to the loss of noble feelings, which he discreetly withdraw, melt like smoke before an empty and all-consuming vanity.

Psychologically young hero Balzac does not change immediately. At first he patronizes the unfortunate father of Gorio, dreams of great love and is generally overwhelmed with the most idyllic feelings. But the “cursed passion” for gold is already gradually mastering all his thoughts: he is attracted both by Mademoiselle Tiffer and by the opportunity to obtain for her a fortune. Refusing, in spite of his ambitious plans, from Vautrin’s suggestion to fix the murder of his brother Mademoiselle Tayfer, Rastignac at the same time in the sentence of the former convict does not see anything unnatural to human nature. No, he is still tormented by doubts, and, wanting to solve them, he turns to his friend, medical student Biashon, with the question of whether Rousseau read: “Do you remember the place where he asks how his reader would act if could, not leaving Paris, with one effort of will to kill in China some old mandarin and thereby become rich? “Biashon honestly replies:” No. “But Rastignac offers him to reflect and almost literally cites Vautrin’s arguments justifying the murder:” I have two sisters are two angels of beauty and integrity, and I want them to be happy… In life there are circumstances when it is necessary to conduct a major game… “But even Biashon in his reasoning over the question of a friend involuntarily confirms Vautrin’s idea that, that between aspiring convicts and “a man of higher order” there is practically no difference: “You raise the question that arises before everyone who enters life, and you want to cut this Gordian knife with a sword. For this… you have to be Alexander,

The consciousness of Rastignac is formed under the influence of the people around him. And the views of the former convict Vautrin, and the philosophizing of the viscountess Bosean, reflecting the spirit of the times, are not fundamentally unacceptable for him. He himself already understood something in this life, therefore the viscountess’s teachings are consonant with his own convictions and do not cause him feelings of irritation: “The more coldly you expect, the further you go,” advises the young man, Vicomtesse Bosean. “Strike blows mercilessly, and before you will tremble. Look at the men and women as the postal horses, drive, not sparing, let them die at each station… “

In a more coarse form, but just as frankly and cynically as Viscountess Bosean, points to Rastignac on the only possible path in this society for success and Vautrin. To do this, it is necessary to “seduce a woman to climb one or another step of the social ladder, sow discord in the family between children, in a word, to go to all the abominations that make a shito-covered, but somehow for personal gain or pleasure” .

So, gradually, Rastignac’s last illusory ideas about human relations disappear. And the sad fate of Father Gorio puts a final point in his internal dispute with Vautrin. Paris, which he saw from the heights of the Pere Lachaise cemetery, will henceforth also be his world in which he must live and which he must conquer. He already knows that this world is ruthlessly cruel and cynical, that everything is bought and sold in it, that only the one who is able to transcend the holiest concepts wins in this world and he was already ready to challenge this world: “And now who will win, me or you? “

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

The moral fall of Eugène de Rastignac