These words belong to one of the heroes Honore Balzac – Gobsek.
Gobsek – the hero of the novel of the same name. His name became a household name, as a symbol of unrestrained desire to accumulate. The passion for accumulation led Gobsak at the end of his life to almost insanity. Lying on his deathbed, he hears that gold coins are rolling around somewhere, and he is trying to find them. “Hagglorot”, “man-bill”, “golden idol” – this is how the usurer calls the stealer Derville. Gobsek believes that “all the forces of mankind are concentrated in gold.” For many years he worked to build a decent condition, but at the same time he broke all ties with his relatives, because they could claim his inheritance. He had no family,
By the age of maturity, Gobsak had accumulated sufficient fortune to become a usurer and “ruler of Paris,” “quiet, not known to anyone.” He became one of the ten people in Paris who ruled this city.
And yet, it seems to me, Gobsek was not a simple money-grubber and a gold accumulator. Gobsek was wise, a man, a philosopher. “Two creatures live in it: a miser and a philosopher, a vile creature and a sublime,” Dervil says of him. The hero of the novel discusses gold not as an end in itself, he understands that gold gives him the right to “own the world”, “appear as retribution, as a reproach to conscience.” He himself gave the right to “be a clawed paw of irresistibility”, or rather, this right gave him his gold. Gobsek is confident, and we can not disagree with him: “only one feeling, invested in us by nature, is unshakable – the instinct of self-preservation.” A lot in life a person does for himself, to amuse his “ego”. Not only Gobsek, but also Derville, Maxim de Tray, and Anastasi de Resto think first of all about themselves.
“Vanity! This is always our” I. “And what can satisfy our vanity? Gold…” – Gobsek is sure. I can agree with the first part of this statement. Yes! Almost everything a person aspires to: success in business, the well-being of the family, material prosperity, a certain position in society – all for oneself, for one’s own vanity. I want to prove to myself that you are worth something in this life, that they treat you. But there are people who die for an idea! I think this also has a certain amount of vanity. Of course, there are altruists who think about themselves in the last place. But they are still a minority. A good, not excessive, vanity should be for everyone who respects his “I” rights.
If we talk about the second part of the statement, then I think differently: our vanity can satisfy not only gold, but also a developed mind, respect for other people, love of loved ones. What can not be bought for gold.
It was sad to see how a wise and enterprising Gobsek at the end of his life turned into a common miser and a money-grubber. Still, gold mutilated the soul of the hero, turned his heart into ashes.