Chapters 5 & 6
Ah, broken-hearted Tatyana! Suffering from unrequited passion for Onegin, Tatyana takes up yet another romantic diversion of superstition. Cats, moons, cards, stars, monks and fleeting hares, all set her heart palpitating with a foreboding of calamity. She dreams a dream in which a huge bear helps her cross a raging river and takes her to a hut in the woods, placing her inside before disappearing. Numerous fantastical creatures are revelling and among them, Onegin, the master of the party. He calls Tatyana ‘his’, Olga arrives with Lensky, yet soon a heated discussion begins between Onegin and Lensky. Onegin produces a knife and Lensky falls. Awakening, Tatyana wonders about the symbolism of her vision but it is her name day and time for the party! Lenksy and Onegin arrive late. Initially Tatyana’s girlish discomfort and pain irritate Onegin, but later he takes pity on her. Yet boredom is his boon companion and he looks for something to alleviate his ennui. Olga! He flirts with her, Olga is receptive but Lensky is horrified and enraged.
With bitter indignation, Lensky challenges Onegin to a duel. Onegin accepts. Yet when Lensky speaks with Olga there is evidence that she is reasonably oblivious to the importance he places on her actions with regard to Onegin and slight doubt fills his mind. However, the challenge has been issued and the duel must go ahead. They pace, aim and fire and Lensky is shot dead. Sense returns to Onegin and he feels horror at what he had done. Pushkin very skillfully puts the reader in the place of Onegin, allowing us to search his emotions upon this terrible act. He then muses on Lensky’s fate and on some repercussions it will cause, closing with sorrow and regret over the unnecessary death of the young poet.
|Onegin by Dmitry Kardovsky
How do you interpret Tatyana’s dream? Any ideas as to why it is usually omitted from major adaptations?
Tatyana’s dream is the foreshadowing of the duel. My guess as to why it is usually omitted is that it is not really necessary to the story and, I think, visually may take away from it. On paper though, it is effective and interesting.
Chapter 6 finds us in the middle of sudden disputes and high drama. What might be the characters’ motivations for such extreme actions? Is it substance, or superficiality? Is anybody right or wrong — and if so, who?
The tragedy of the last chapter is that really no one wants the duel. Tatyana, if she had known about it, would have been horrified and tried to stop it; the same with Olga. After Lensky realized that Olga was innocent (or at least appeared innocent) in the seduction, his anger and resentment faded and there was a regret about his decision. Onegin also mentally repented of his callous actions of the night before, yet even so, his pride demanded that he continue on the calamitous course that was set by Lensky’s youthful zeal. The lack of maturity in both males characters lead to serious consequences.
Reactions or predictions?
I was a little puzzled during the duel scene. My translation says:
“With quiet, firm and measured tread,
Not aiming yet, the foes took boldly
The first four steps that lay ahead —
Four fateful steps. The space decreasing,
Onegin then, while still not ceasing
His slow advance, was first to raise
His pistols with a level gaze.
Five pace more, while Lensky waited
To close one eye, and only then,
To take his aim …… And that was when
Onegin fired ……”
They started off pacing boldly and equally, yet Onegin was the first to raise his pistol. And then there were five paces after that. Why did Onegin have his pistol ready at four paces and Lensky had to still raise his after nine? Was it a sign of Lensky’s ineptness with duelling? In any case, I found it confusing and a little awkward. I wonder if it’s just my translation. Can anyone enlighten me? Are there any duelling enthusiasts out there? 😉
Any quotes stand out?
He could have shown some spark of feeling
Instead of bristling like a beast;
He should have spoken words of healing,
Disarmed youth’s heart …… or tried at least.
‘Too late,’ he thought, ‘the moment’s wasted …..
It’s like a Greek chorus singing the upcoming tragedy.