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A Reflection On The Defeat Of Power In Fathers And Sons By Turgenev

2184 words - 9 pages

A Reflection on the Defeat of Power
When asked about his thoughts regarding the great men and women of society, George Bernard Shaw replied, “...they don’t exist. We believe in them a lot like we used to believe in unicorns and dragons. The greatest man or woman is ninety-nine percent just like yourself” (George). This concept remains hard to keep in accord with human nature. In the novel Fathers and Sons, Russian author, Turgenev, enshrines this human “goal” to become “great” and “powerful” symbolically in one character; Bazarov. He also characterizes the polar opposite of this goal in an ordinary, but respected individual; Arkady. In this tabloid society, it comes as no surprise that ...view middle of the document...

Bazarov acts symbolically in the novel as a chauvinist for power and pride. This symbolic reputation of Bazarov starting early in the novel foreshadows his detrimental fate in the end. Bazarov uses his power to condescend others by establishing his power over those around him. He tells Pavel Petrovich early on in the novel that the "most useful thing” anyone can do is to “repudiate – and so we repudiate” (Turgenev 10.58). Bazarov asserts his dominance without hesitation even over other male characters in the novel. In a time of gender discrimination, and different stereotypical notions, Bazarov seems to preserve egotism with whoever crosses his path-man or woman. Bazarov’s symbolism for power helps the novel foreshadow that as individuals become less and less fond of Bazarov and his traits, his fate becomes more and more representative of his life. This dominance in his character helps the reader and the other characters in the novel to characterize Bazarov as an individual with a dogmatic personality, drawing attention to his desire to become powerful. His dominance, ultimately lost at his fate, as he becomes weak and fragile without anyone to condescend, and without anyone to truly care for him.
This defeat of power seen through characterization of Bazarov exists when comparison justifies the fate of Bazarov. Bazarov compares himself to authorities on a regular basis. In fact, he does not just compare himself, but also equalizes himself to the highest level of authority; God. Bazarov says, "It is not for the gods to have to bake bricks" (19.36). His competence and confidence to equate himself to a supreme being present an egotistical characteristic in his desire to become powerful perpetrated through his need to compare himself to others of supreme ideal. Ego persists not a trait that remains valued in the society he resides in, but Bazarov cannot relinquish his power in the society, he loses sight of becoming a part of the society first. When Bazarov describes Nikolai, he places himself at a God-like comparison, and then judges the older man. Bazarov explains that Nikolai “ wastes his time reading poetry” and that he “knows...little about farming, but his heart's in the right place" (4.30). Bazarov literally believes he has the supreme authority to determine the worth and value of others, even if they are older than him. Bazarov is no more entitled than Arkady is to determine if Nikolai’s “heart” lies in the right place, but only Bazarov feels the supremacy to do so. Even though one can argue that in some instances, Bazarov can display humility, almost the entire time throughout the novel, this is not the case. Because ego and power do not serve as inherently positive traits, Bazarov deviates from the rest of society for the most part, because his life centers around being the most important figure in society. Comparing the ego of Bazarov and the simplicity of others in the novel allows Bazarov to not just differentiate himself from the way...

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