Le Père Goriot Study Guide

Le Père Goriot Study Guide

Original title:
le Père Goriot

Le Pere Goriot or Father Goriot is a novel by Honoré de Balzac that tells the story of an old man, who struggles to provide his daughters with enough money to have a better life than his own. This book is considered one of the best and more serious novels by Balzac that is praised for its complex characters and unusual plotline. The main character though isn’t Goriot himself, but a poor student called de Rastignac, who is Goriot’s neighbor in the dormitory.

The parallel between de Rastignac and Goriot’s ungrateful daughters is very prominent at the beginning. Both are using their parents just as a source of income to live a luxurious life and consider it completely fine. But when de Rastignac befriends Goriot he realizes how harmful such an attitude can be. He falls for one of Goriot’s daughter, but she mirrors his own attitude to the others, treating de Rastignac as someone she can’t benefit from.

The character’s intentions, biographies and reasons to act the way they do is a mystery at the beginning of the play. The identity of Vautrine is the most shady of all of the cast, making the readers and the rest of the dormitory inhabitants consider him a villain. Goriot is rumored to have rich lover that supports him. Each and every of the character has their own mystery that has to be solved throughout the story, that makes Father Goriot a novel that borders with the detective story.

Aside of thrilling plot, the author makes us think about the important moral and philosophical questions of gratitude, shame and duty, true happiness and moral maturity that can’t be achieved without enduring the tests of life. The final words said by de Rastignac show that he has passed the exam of life and, unlike Goriot’s daughters, turned into the adult and responsive young man with his own moral values.

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