The emptiness under Eugene’s mendacity
From the exterior perspective, Eugene Onegin, the protagonist in Pushkin’s novel in verse, Eugene Onegin, is the combination of perfection. He is externally attractive, with his elegant and exquisite attires, his high social status and his wealth. He never worries about his livelihood and income, since he never has to work to sustain himself. His main activity is to entertain himself, like attaining balls and theatres, and flirting with women. However, in contrast, all these luxurious life fails to make him internally happy and satisfied. Pushkin implies Eugene’s gloomy mood even before the novel begins: “The heart’s reflections, writ in tears” (2). The origin of his passive mood is not explicitly explained in the novel. Although Pushkin keeps emphasizing that Eugene gets bored with the balls, the shows, and people around him, his moan and groan still seem come from nowhere. It is hard to get to Eugene’s deep inside to analyze the origin of his negative attitudes, since he keeps feigning his feelings. One important quality of Eugene’s character is his mendacity. Pushkin directly reveals his mendacity at the beginning of the stanza 8 in chapter 1. Eugene’s character in the novel is like the costume of actors, presenting what he wants others to believe he is, instead of whom he is. Besides the obvious descriptions like “dissemble” and “conceal his hopes,” the author uses the word “play” to describe Eugene’s character (Pushkin 9). Eugene is not being himself. He is playing a role. Eugene’s every behavior and act is the decoration of his exterior appearance, instead of expressions of his feelings and emotions. His cheers in the theatre are not from his genuinely appreciation of the performance, but because “everyone has heard his voice” (11). Under his splendid appearance, what is the genuine character of Eugene? Tatyana failed to identify Eugene’s sincerity through the end of the novel. At the reunion between Eugene and Tatyana, Tanya hesitates: “what role does he intend to fill?/Childe Harold? Melmoth for a while?/ Cosmopolite? A Slavophile?/ A Quaker? Bigot?” (188). Pushkin does not present a constant character in this novel that everyone agrees to be the real character of Eugene. Pushkin uses several binaries: “proud” and “forbearing,” “attentive” and “uncaring” to describe his mercurial character (9). Then, which description is the real Eugene? It is none of them since all these features are feigned by Eugene. He looks proud because he wants to present his noble status, but he wants to ingratiate others, not because he cares about them, but because he needs attention and adoration from others. Eugene pays much attention to his appearance, to how he looks like in front of the general public. He spends much time in front of the mirror, “dressed, undressed, and dressed again” (14). He minds “the beauty of his nails” (15). All these come from his excessive attention to other people’s opinions and comments on him. “Now, my Eugene, Chadayev’s double,/ From jealous critics fearing trouble” (15). Eugene is sensitive about other people’s comments. Eugene’s obsession with his exquisite appearance could suggest that he pays much attention to his social networking, to leave a perfect impression on other people. However, he fails to build up any of the important relationship with other people in the society. In stanza 44 in chapter 1, Pushkin mentions Eugene’s “emptiness that plagues his soul” (23). One possibility that he is playing his roles is his lack of motive to build up connections with the society. His inside is empty. He does not have strong and genuine feelings and emotions to guide him to develop close and sincere relationship with significant others. To maintain his connections with others, he can only create his feelings and feigning them. Although he is surrounded with people throughout the novel, Eugene lacks the three important affections and social relationship that could...
Cited: Pushkin, Aleksandr Sergeevich. Eugene Onegin. Trans. James E. Falen. Oxford: Oxford UP,
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