The Character Of Eugene Onegin

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The following sample essay on “The Character Of Eugene Onegin”: according to the radical nineteenth-century Russian critic Dmitry Pisarev, in creating the character of Eugene Onegin, Pushkin ‘used the whole arsenal of his talent to turn a petty, cowardly, spineless, idle dandy into a tragic figure, exhausted from battling the inordinate demands of people and the age’.

After much consideration I have decided that I do not agree with Pisarevs’ characterisation of Onegin. Pisarev describes Onegin as a pitiful and cowardly figure where as I believe that Pushkin used his description of Onegin as merely a representation of an average, idealized young man of that era, describing how most young men at that time were bored and had no purpose.

Onegin did not really know what to do with his life and time apart from lead the life of a typical, wealthy young man, attending balls, operas and walks on the Nevsky Prospect.

In his youth, Onegin is admired for his social graces, despite having no real depth to his education.

”All of us had a bit of schooling in something and somehow.”Though Onegins education was not of the highest standard, he still comes across to the reader as having a high sense of culture and in his own respect differs from most of the noble society. Onegin had perfected a high proficiency of the French language. His skill of being able to speak of everything “…with an expert’s learned air…” portrayed an image of a clever and well taught young man.

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Onegin was clever in disguising his true level of knowledge so as not to appear as an average young man as Pushkin described him to be.

In my opinion Onegin, at heart, is a good man. Pisarevs’ characterization makes him out to be otherwise. Eugene was hurt and disappointed at many stages in his life and thus, to an extent, withdrew himself from everyone. He still fit into society but disguised in a protective mask of coldness and remoteness, shying away from close friendships and love. I believe the scene after Eugene receives Tatyanas’ love letter truly shows his true nature. By rejecting her gently, telling her he is touched but would be a terrible husband.”But for bliss I was not created”To that my soul is foreign still”

This shows that Eugene is not a “…petty, cowardly, spineless, idle dandy…” but rather a kind hearted man. Onegin could have cynically used Tatyana, taken advantage of her innocence and na�vety, but he didn’t. He simply told her she deserved better than him.

To conclude I must comment on the fateful scene of the duel, which for me completely contradicts Pisarevs’ characterization of Onegin. Although Eugene was in the wrong to provoke Lensky, he showed many signs trying to stop the duel from going ahead. Firstly, Eugene attempted to talk Lensky out of the duel, showing he had no interest of harming Lensky. Furthermore Onegin breaches the etiquette by arriving late and being accompanied by a servant as his second. I understand this as resistance to the duel and an attempt to avoid it. Nevertheless Eugene has to go on with the duel. He shoots with great lassitude and sadness. I do not believe it is right to describe Onegin as a cold-blooded murderer or a tragic figure; he is merely a victim of a helplessly rigid society, locked in manners from which no one can find an escape.

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The Character Of Eugene Onegin
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