In it live two creatures, a miser and
A philosopher, a vile creature and sublime.
O. de Balzac. Gobsek
What an ambiguous personality was able to create Honore de Balzac in his novel “Gobsek”! What a strange and, you can say, terrible fate for the hero of this story – the usurer of the Hobsek, what a tremendous power he was given for all the hardships he suffered in his life! What kind of person is this?
When we get acquainted with Gobsec, a man with a motionless, dispassionate face, as if cast in bronze, stands before us. He is secretive, closed, he has no family, no friends, he broke all ties with relatives. Could someone suggest that this old man, who is renting a room, looks more like a monastic cell, leading a measured and very economical
Childhood Gobsek was deprived, having got in the early age of the cabin boy on the ship and having floated in a society of seamen twenty years. Where he had never been, what he did not do! Like no one else, Gobsek knew losses and disappointments, insults and inhuman work. It was not easy for him to have a fortune that he now owned, at the end of his life’s journey.
Possessing an attentive and perspicacious mind, Gobsek managed to understand well the people in his life, to understand the inner essence of modern society, and this was his unconditional discovery, no less than money. Gobsek saw a little consolation in a world where “everywhere there is a struggle between the poor and the rich,” where “moral rules and beliefs are empty words,” where the rich rule. So gradually he came to the conclusion that “out of all earthly goods there is only one, sufficiently reliable, so that a person should chase after him… this is… gold.” Money in that world gave man everything: recognition, luxury, power, satisfaction of all his desires. But the desire for wealth and spoils people, causes envy, hypocrisy, anger, lies, pushes against crime. That is why, having collected the
Gobsek became a pawnbroker, and involuntarily he had to deal with people who need money, big money – with people spoiled by this money. Does someone reproach Hobsak for greed, greed, miserliness, loss of human feelings? But how could it be humanly, honestly and nobly to communicate with such as Count Maxim de Tray, Countess de Resto and the like? The whole life of these people is deception and hypocrisy, and all for the sake of money.
I do not agree with the fact that Gobsek lost all good feelings, became impassive, dead in his lifetime. It seems to me that he did much more good for people than they saw it. He really helped the solicitor Dervil without placing him in a position of monetary or moral dependence on himself, although Derville did not immediately understand this, but he appreciated it later. It was Gobsek who finally preserved the estate and cleaned up the estate for the young Ernest de Rest and arranged for the young man to inherit, standing firmly on his feet, and not when his mother could easily squander the state of the deceived deceased husband. Even the rich – his creditors – Gobsek brought good: he forced them to evaluate their actions and feel responsibility for them.
I believe that Gobsek retained both humanity and humanity, but he lived according to the laws of his time, comprehended independently during his hard life, and otherwise he could not survive. Gobsek did not become a philanthropist, did not give his money to the poor and the poor, because he realized that free money is a greater evil and dependence than saving, poverty. I think that this man was in many respects right, although I do not justify it completely: greed, turned into a mad mania at the end of his life, is disgusting.
And yet, I believe Gobsek’s undeniable merit is that, having lost a lot that has value for any person: sincerity of feelings, warm human communication, the possibility of creating a family – the old usurer really achieved what he was striving for. He earned the right to live the way he wanted.