Pere Goriot Analysis

Posted on

Le Pere Goriot Analysis

Creating an outstanding literary analysis takes time, practice and skill. Liking the book you’ve read is not enough – you need to understand the specific tools the author used for creating the effect and delivering the message. If you are not so sure about your analytical skills in literature, you can always take a look at our Le Pere Goriot analysis to get a better idea of how such papers should be written.

We remind you, however, that you aren’t allowed to copy any of the information from our blog without proper references, since it will be considered as a violation of copyright law. We believe you don’t even need to do so, since we have so many awesome articles and easy tips – you will catch your inspiration and start writing on your own.

How can you use this Le Pere Goriot analysis then? Here are just a few suggestions to start with. You can use it as:

  • a structural template
  • a source of ideas
  • an example of academic language
  • a source of analytical methods used in literature reviews

Of course, all of the variations are limited by your imagination and copyright laws. Check our blog for more awesome samples and articles about writing to boost your skills and grades.

The Boardinghouse as a House of Mirrors in Balzac’s Le Père Goriot

Realism is the “art of representing actuality,” which Honoré de Balzac successfully exploits in his novel Le Père Goriot (Preston Dargan 72). A keen observer of the “language, errors, opinions of the Parisian bourgeois” (Mortimer 84), Balzac creates a narrative that owes its verisimilitude to a minute and vivid descriptions of the human experience. Moreover, he builds a peculiar kind of realism in which the architecture is imbued with human character. A small-scale model of Paris, the boardinghouse emulates a house of mirrors, symbolizing not only entrapment and corruption, but also the ability to shift between multifarious traits and identities which ultimately lead to the degradation of the human condition (Tadié 35).

Firstly, Mme Vauquer’s pension bourgeoise represents a metropolis in miniature (Tadié 31), where the unseen forces of greed, lust, and confusion work to the detriment of the characters. The boardinghouse foreshadows destruction: “it has a stuffy, musty, and rancid quality” (Balzac 5). It is a mixture of old but likable: “floor is sufficiently uneven,” (6) “this apartment is in all its glory at seven o’clock in the morning,” (7) it is decrepit yet charming: “nothing can be more depressing than the sight of that sitting-room […] yet, [it] is as charming and as delicately perfumed as a boudoir” (7). The boardinghouse entraps its inhabitants after they have been rejected by society (Tadié 36). Such is the case of Father Goriot, who has been left to wither away after investing his entire fortune in his daughters’ matrimonial affairs.

Secondly, Balzac uses the mirroring effect of the boarding house to create a myriad of unusual and confusing reflections. The characters project themselves upon the house: Mme Vauquer is “the embodiment and interpretation of her lodging-house,” Rastignac undergoes great character development, exhibiting everything from childish naïveté and devotion to violence, compromise, and deception, while the arch-criminal and insouciant Vautrin is “the Mephistopheles to Rastignac’s Faust” (Balzac 7;Tadié 35). Vautrin is an elaborate phony with multiple identities, while Poiret and Michonneau turn out to be informers for the police. Goriot’s title, père, could mean both “old” and “father,” pointing to his physical and moral downfall in contrast to his paternal love and sacrifice for his daughters.

In conclusion, the boardinghouse in Balzac’s Le Père Goriot typifies a “strikingly organized metaphorical description” of a heightened reality, a house of mirrors where characters are faced with what they are, what they ought to be, and what they unfortunately become (Farrant 123).

Works Cited

Balzac Honoré De, and Ellen Marriage. Father Goriot. Anncona Media, 2014.
Farrant, Tim. Introduction to Nineteenth-Century French Literature. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013.
Mortimer, Armine Kotin. For Love or for Money: Balzac’s Rhetorical Realism. The Ohio State University Press, 2011.
Dargan, Edwin Preston. “Studies in Balzac. II. Critical Analysis of Realism.” Modern Philology, vol. 16, no. 7, 1918, pp. 351–370., doi:10.1086/387204.
Tadié, Benoit. “Balzacian Ghosts in The Boarding House”. European Joyce Studies, no.19, 2011, pp. 31-41.


Grab our 3 Amazon
e-books bundle for $27 Amazon FREE

12 years of essay writing expertise distilled into our ultimate collection of books.
By clicking “Get free e-books” you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Books sent. Check your mail.