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The Devastating Power Of Obsessive Love In Eugenie Grandet

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Written in 1833, Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac is a novel about the devastating power of obsessive love, which leads to the destruction of a family. In the novel, Balzac introduces us to the character of Grandet. His greed and obsession with gold are evident throughout the story. His family, consisting of his wife and daughter, live daily under the shadow of his oppression. He has warped their view of reality to adjust to his greed. Eugenie, the title character in the novel, is greatly affected by her father, since his miserliness is, in a sense, bequeathed to her through her unrequited love attachment with her cousin Charles. In this paper, I will argue that Eugenie's inability to love and show affection in a natural manner is attributed to the oppression she has suffered her whole life.

The novel is set in the early nineteenth century in the small French town of Saumur, where lives the Grandet family in "that grey, cold, silent house at the upper end of the town, under the shadow of the ruined ramparts" (p.48 Balzac).

This house is where Eugenie and her mother spend most of their time, knitting household linen and waiting for Monsieur Grandet to arrive. Eugenie is a very simple girl. She asks for little and expects even less. She has no aspirations whatsoever, and is accustomed to plainness and austerity. The arrival of her cousin Charles stirs in Eugenie a burning desire to seek freedom from her repressive reality. Her infatuation with her cousin results from an inner yearning to escape from her father's shadow of oppression. She sees Charles as her ticket to freedom and is so desperate not to lose him that she is willing to defy her father, the man that has terrified her her whole life, to please Charles.

Her emotional awakening against a backdrop of provincial oppression, creates in Eugenie a sort of dysfunctional quality which prevents her from expressing her feelings



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