Saturday, 23 April 2016

Filial Love in 19th Century Literature

Father Goriot by Balzac

In Balzac's "Father Goriot" (1895) the eponymous character meets his death by his own excessive fatherly love. Like Shakespeare's King Lear, the generous father is deserted by the two selfish daughters. But Goriot unlike Lear, does not ever have a Cordelia to "to love and be silent".

Les Miserables

In Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" (1862) the young couple Cossette and Marius gradually neglect Jean Valjean in their mutual absorption. Only after learning from others the truth that he has saved both their lives, they rush to his deathbed. 

Silas Marner

In contrast, Eppie in George Eliot's "Silas Marner" (1861) remains steadfast to her foster father, even after her natural father offers her riches and social status. She justifies the symbolism that she was mistakenly thought to be the lost gold (because of her auburn curls) by her sterling (in both senses) qualities.