The Bronze Horseman

by Alexander Pushkin

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

"The Bronze Horseman" includes themes of progress, status, and nature versus industrialization.

Progress is one clear theme in the poem. Whether or not progress is good, however, is debatable. The land where Saint Petersburg will be built is a place that's not yet developed; Peter the Great looks out over it and dreams of something better. He sees a marsh filled with huts and dreams of a great city that could offer protection and progress to Russia.

Status is another important theme in the poem. The person dreaming of the future of Saint Petersburg at the beginning of the poem is the ruler of Russia. Parts 1 and 2 of the poem, on the other hand, focus on a common man named Evgeny. Pushkin says he "was poor, condemned to drudgery," but he dreams of a better life with the woman he wants to marry. His status presents a contrast to that of Peter of the Great. Ultimately, Peter's City and statue are what first ruins Evgeny's dreams of a better life and later chase him away and lead to his death.

Nature versus industrialization is an underlying theme of the poem as well. Whether Evgeny and his fiancee would have been better off in a simpler, less industrial society is questionable—but nature takes aim at the city and disrupts the lives of all who live there. There is a terrible flood that causes the ruler, Alexander, to say that "The Tsar is no commander Of God’s own elements." Nature sweeps away the city that man has built and kills many common people in the process.

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