Père Goriot

by Honoré Balzac

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How does the quote connect to Père Goriot being an expression of Realism?

"All is true, so true that everyone can recognize the elements of the tragedy in his own household, in his own heart perhaps."

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I think that Balzac's work can be seen as an attempt to bring out the tragic conditions that submerge the individual in reality.  There is an obvious parallel between Shakespeare's King Lear and Pere Goriot.  Yet, I think that it is in Balzac's desire for Realism that he is able to construct a story that is entirely plausible.  Its tragic conditions do not take place in far away kingdoms and worlds of castles with royalty.  They take place amongst us.  Pere Goriot is relegated to substandard housing in Paris, arises from humble origins, and engages in the same reality that is not that different from any of us.  The tragic conditions he endures are ones that envelop us.  The pain of wishing for something more than what is, the mortgaging of our present and future in hopes of an unattainable dream, and the empty carriages that follow our own funeral processions are conditions of tragedy in which Goriot lives that also encompass our own reality.  For Balzac, it is important to construct a condition of being in which the tragedy of being is something that exists in our own worlds, our own households, and our own hearts.  I think that this is something that makes the narrative so compelling in that it brings the tragic conditions of Shakespeare to our own worlds, an element of Realism that Balzac feels particularly compelled to deliver in the embodiment of Pere Goriot as a character.

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