Chapters 7 & 8
Spring comes, yet Onegin has fled the country and Lensky’s grave, while at first visited by the two young girls, soon remains alone and forgotten. In fact, soon after his demise, Olga marries, showing her attachment was rather a tenuous one. With Olga’s marriage, Tatyana is now alone and spends her time walking throughout the countryside. One day she comes upon Onegin’s estate, gains entrance and begins to pour through the books he has left behind and the notes he has made inside them. Perhaps reality began to materialize with Lensky’s death, but now she really begins to search for the true Onegin and perhaps does not like what she finds:
“And modern man himself portrayed
With something of his true complexion —
With his immoral soul disclosed
His arid vanity exposed,
His endless bent for deep reflection,
His cold, embittered mind that seems
To waste itself in empty schemes.”
“And so, in slow but growing fashion
My Tanya starts to understand
More clearly now — thank God — her passion
And him for whom, by fate’s command …”
Tatyana’s mother, Dame Larin is concerned that she has turned down marriage proposals and decides to take her to Moscow and the marriage mart. Tatyana laments their going, saying good-bye to all her woodland haunts. We are treated to a grand show of Moscow, but Tatyana does not like her new surroundings or the people in them. Will she be able to adjust to this new reality?
Onegin turns up in town and it appears he has been travelling, perhaps trying to forget the tragic circumstances that caused his flight from the country. Tatyana has married a general, who is much older than her, and Onegin spies them at a party. Astounded by Tatyana’s poise and regal demeanour, he begs an introduction by the general who is a friend of his. While Tatyana is polite, she treats him with no particular regard, which drives Onegin mad with love for her. Eventually, after dogging her like a puppy, he writes her a letter, exposing his feelings. He expected to touch Tatyana’s heart, as he had in her youth, but surprise! she was furious at what he had done. When he finally confronts her at her house, she chastizes him and tells him, though she loves him, she is married and will remain faithful to her husband for life.
|Onegin proposes to Tatyana
late 19th century illustration
by Pavel Sokolov (source Wikipedia)
In chapter 7, Tatyana finally begins to grow up. The duel appears to precipitate the change, but reading Onegin’s books in a slow thoughtful manner, in direct contrast to her initial quick infatuation, demonstrates a maturing of soul. Having to leave the comfort of her childhood home, also forces her to go down the path towards womanhood.
Chapter 8 certainly gives us a sense of how Tatyana’s view of Onegin has altered. While she still retains the emotion of girlish love, she sees his character clearly.
The second reading of this poem (with a different translation) has certainly made specific situations and the sentiments of the characters come more alive for me. I’ll write a review soon to summarize my discoveries!