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Response to The Queen of Spades

Queen of Spades

Alexander Pushkin’s The Queen of Spades is extraordinary in a number of ways and is truly exemplary in its teachings on the futility and thoughtlessness of unbridled greed. The writer uses suspense and irony masterfully to powerfully deliver the message that greed does not pay.

The most outstanding character in the book is Herman. Herman at first impresses the reader with his strength of character. While his friends spend long hours gambling, Herman is happy to watch them but never participates. Even more impressive is the fact that Herman is actually a man of means who is sitting on an inheritance but is determined not to squander it but to work for himself to gain wealth. This love for thrift is emphasized with details on the humble existence that defines Herman’s life. For a man who has declared that he will pursue wealth and financial independence through “economy, calculation and hard work” (Pushkin ch. 2), Herman’s later change of tactics is as ironical as it is horrifying.

The moment he discovers that wealth could be made by making contact with the old countess, Herman seems to lose his mind. Some desperation makes him ready to do anything and everything to get the secret that the countess holds. Considering the woman’s age, Herman knows that he has no time to spare as the woman could die at any moment. His unbridled greed drives him to lead the long-suffering Lizavetta Ivanova on what the latter mistakenly believes is the road to love and possible matrimony. Having carefully crafted his way to the countess through deceit, Herman attempts to secure the all-important secret through pretentious expression of deep love for the countess while the girl who truly loves him sits wondering what could have happened to him. Failing to get what he wants through an extravagant display of emotion, Herman resorts to violence. When the old woman dies, what horrifies Herman is not her death but “the irrevocable loss of the secret which was to have brought him wealth” (Pushkin ch. 4).

Herman’s greedy fixation on wealth has turned him into a mad man. When, in drink-inspired sleep, he meets the dead countess in a vision, his ruin is complete. Blinded by greed, he wagers and loses all his money and ends up in a mental hospital.
Through the disparate characters of Herman and Lizavetta, the author succeeds in showing that greed only ruins a man. This point is emphasized not only through the terrible circumstances that Herman ends up in, but by the happy changes that take place in Lizavetta’s life. This girl, who had known nothing but trouble all her life and who had been exploited by both her employer and the person who pretended to love her, at last meets a wealthy young man who loves and marries her. The author leaves the reader to imagine what life would have been like for Lizavetta if she had ended up with the stingy and greedy Herman.

Work cited
Pushkin, Alexander. The Queen of Spades. Ed. Natalie Duddington. Progress Publishers. Accessed 16 Apr. 2009
Published: 2009-09-27
Author: naftaly kinuthia

About the author or the publisher
Freelance Academic writer and researcher

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