Eugene Onegin

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The unhappy romance between Eugene Onegin and Tatyana Larin is narrated by a young man-about-Moscow who has complicated, contradictory reactions to his tale. The narrator alternately laughs, admires, despairs, and takes courage as the story unfolds.

Numerous love affairs have dulled Onegin’s sensibilities. He retires to an estate where the inexperienced Tatyana imagines him a hero out of a romantic novel. She writes Eugene a long, adoring letter. He lectures her on the silliness of her emotions and flirts with her sister. The sister’s fiance resents Onegin’s attentions and challenges him to a duel. Onegin kills the fiance and leaves Russia.

Two years later, Onegin returns and meets Tatyana in Moscow. She has made a marriage of convenience. Finding himself passionately desiring Tatyana, Onegin becomes her devoted attendant. Soon he asks her to become his mistress. Although she confesses to loving him, she refuses to betray her vows.

The novel offers no resolution. It ends abruptly with Tatyana’s elderly husband entering just as she refuses the stunned Onegin. The narrator offers no information on the characters’ fates. Did Tatyana regret her decision? Did Onegin find another woman to desire? Readers, reviewing Pushkin’s insights into the lovers’ hearts, are left to ponder their destinies.

Eugene and Tatyana are among the great figures in Russian literature because they symbolize conflicting impulses in the...

(The entire section is 526 words.)