The tragedy of Martin Eden

The tragedy of Martin Eden

How many of them fell into this abyss,

Deployed in the distance!

There will come a day when I will disappear

From the surface of the earth.

M. Tsvetaeva

Jack London’s novel “Martin Eden” is largely autobiographical, it is a kind of confession of the writer and an attempt to predict his future through the fate of a fictional character.

In the novel, we reveal the tragedy of a man who emerged from the bottom and managed to take his place in the society of the higher world, but at the same time realizing that he reached a completely different goal, as if life laughed at the audacity of the young man who challenged her boldly…

In the image of Martin Eden, we are faced with a man who grew up in poverty, among people at the very bottom of the social ladder, fully mastered the cruel animal laws that prevail in this world: the strongest survives, he also gets the best – food, women, power. Not wanting to put up with his position, Martin passionately strives to get out “upstairs,” and this is manifested not so much the material interests and ambition of a young man as his desire for knowledge, culture, the dream of beauty and purity of relations between people.

The case brings Martin together with the family of the banker Morse, and he falls in love with Morse’s daughter – Ruth. This girl, brought up in a world completely different from Eden, rather mediocre and mediocre, seems

to Martin an embodiment of purity and spirituality. Seeking to win her love, to be worthy of her, the young man enthusiastically and endlessly perseveres to conquer his place under the bright sun of the upper world.

In iridescent tones imagining the future of his dreams, Martin reads a lot, is engaged in self-education. He firmly decided to become a writer and achieve fame to be on par with the Morse and the like. Eden works a lot and painstakingly, but his desire for writing is perceived by the higher world with irony, like childishness, although they respect the desire of Martin to advance, to occupy a higher social position.

In order to achieve the goal, Martin is ready for hardship and loss. He writes stories, poems, novels, but manuscripts invariably return from various publishing houses and editorial offices, where he sends them. But even enduring desperate need, the young man does not give up, because the comparison of his works with those printed in newspapers and magazines speaks clearly in his favor. In Eden’s eyes, journalistic writing is false, fresh, petty, limited, and for a straightforward and honest young man a deal with the conscience is impossible. Avoiding literary cliches, not wanting to imitate anyone, Martin achieves recognition of his exclusivity, individuality.

Gradually, the main character of the novel reveals the true essence of the higher world, the mechanisms that drive the world, where he so strived. Martin is constantly confronted with the pettiness, the paucity of spiritual interests, and the mercenary spirit, which Eden recognized behind the outward luster and refinement of the “pillars of society,” became disgusting to him.

Sudden and stunning success comes no longer to an enthusiastic youth, but to a man who has lost all illusions. With a success that, as Martin now clearly understands, was a consequence not so much of his talent and huge work, as a game of chance, disappointment comes. In a world that previously seemed ideal to Eden, power is given to money and fame, even love is bought here. However, money was never a priority in Martin’s value system. His tragedy is that he has nowhere to strive for, and he can not and does not want to go back. It turns out that all this huge and complex path, which he did, was passed in vain.

Lonely and useless, Martin Eden loses the meaning of life. And he chooses the only possible, it seems to him, way to cut this Gordian knot – to leave the life, so cruelly laughed at his dreams and hopes.


The tragedy of Martin Eden