W. Ryan Wheatley
Eugene & Raskolnikov
Honoré de Balzac’s most important novel is widely considered as Le Père Goriot. It marks the first serious use by the author of characters who had appeared in other books, a technique that distinguishes Balzac's fiction. The novel is also noted as an example of his realist style, using minute details to create character and subtext. Fyodor Dostoyevsky is renowned as one of the world’s greatest novelists and literary psychologists as portrayed in Crime and Punishment. His works grapples with deep political, social, and religious issues while seeking into the psychology of characters whose lives are shaped by these issues. Dostoyevsky spent four years at a labor camp in Siberia, followed by four years of military service. Raskolnikov’s time in a Siberian prison, described in the Epilogue of Crime and Punishment, is based on Dostoyevsky’s own experiences at a similar prison. In the novels of Le Père Goriot and Crime and Punishment, Eugène and Raskolnikov, despite their contrasting lifestyles and upbringing, overlap some similar characteristics.
In Le Père Goriot, Eugène displays many differences in comparison to Raskolnikov. Unlike Raskolnikov, Eugène is full of dreams, and prepared to work hard and become a successful lawyer. In addition, Eugène is from an aristocratic family where he has some influential relatives in Paris including his cousin. Eugène is lucky to be in a respectable social class and is quick to realize that he has the opportunity to become part of one of the most restricted and brilliant circles in Paris. Another difference that is evident in comparison to Raskolnikov is the ability not to crack to pressure. With Vautrin right at his side whispering that hard work will lead him to a life of bourgeois mediocrity and that in the meantime he will need money. Eugène feels defeated, and although he argues with himself and feels remorse, he will exploit his mother and...
Cited: Balzac, Honoré De. Le Pere Goriot. New York: Heath, 1907. Print.
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor. Crime and Punishment. New York: Modern Library, 1950. Print.
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