First Love Pathway To Adulthood


First Love: Pathway To Adulthood Essay, Research Paper

First Love: Pathway to Adulthood

Love is one of the strongest emotions that a human being can feel. It

can arise ever so suddenly, spreading a feeling of warm happiness through every

inch of a person; like wildfire spreading through a tree. But as the feelings

become more intense, the flame of passion can turn into a blazing fire that

burns painfully through every vein. A person’s first love is especially

powerful because it grows from an innocent, na?ve passion. Such was the case

for both Vladimir, in Turgenev’s First Love, and Tatyana, in Pushkin’s Eugene

Onegin. The first experience of unrequited love for Vladimir and Tatyana was

filled with these raptures and tribulations, which, although left them broken

hearted, gave them the strength and maturity needed to become adults.

Throughout the genre of First Love, Vladimir was shown to be completely

swooped up in overwhelming emotion for Zinaida. Vladimir was entranced with her

beauty from the moment he first saw her, “I gazed at her, and how dear she

already was to me , and how near. It seemed to me that I had known her for a

long time, and that before her I had known nothing and had not lived?. (33)”

Vladimir was in love at the first sight of her. He couldn’t help himself from

becoming infatuated with her because he didn’t know the first thing about love.

As the genre moves on, Vladimir’s feelings for Zinaida became deeper and deeper.

Vladimir thought to himself:

I felt weary and at peace, but the image of Zinaida still hovered triumphant

over my soul, though even this image seemed more tranquil. Like a swan rising

from the grasses of the marsh, it stood out from the unlovely shapes which

surrounded it, and I, as I fell asleep, in parting for the last time clung to it,

in trusting adoration. (48)

Vladimir allows himself to become completely wrapped up in Zinaida to the point

where it becomes an obsession. He is in love with her so much that he even

envisions himself rescuing her, as if from any other man: “I saw a vision of

myself saving her from the hands of her enemies: I imagined how, covered with

blood, I tore her from the very jaws of some dark dungeon and then died at her

feet (71-72).” Vladimir was so lost in love for Zinaida that he fantasized

about her in order to make their love seem real. Although Vladimir’s obsessive

love for Zinaida brought wonderful emotions, it also brought the pain and

suffering of jealousy and rejection.

The raptures that Vladimir experienced went hand in hand with the

tribulations of love:

I say that my passion began from that day; and I might add that my suffering

began on that day too. In Zinaida’s absence I pined: I could not concentrate: I

could not do the simplest thing. For whole days I did nothing but think

intensely about her. I pined away, but her presence brought me no relief. I

was jealous and felt conscious of my worthlessness. I was stupidly sulky, and

stupidly abject; (52)

As a result of his obsession, Vladimir became a basket case who could do nothing

for himself. By allowing himself to become so wrapped up in her, he no longer

had any feelings of self worth. The conflicting feelings of passion and pain

struck fear into him:

It was a queer, feverish period; the most violently conflicting feelings,

thoughts, suspicions, hopes, joys, pains, tossed and whirled within me in a kind

of mad chaos: I was afraid of looking into myself, if a boy of sixteen can be

said to do such a thing; I was afraid to face anythingwhatever it might be -

consciously. (92).

This innocent fear of looking into himself was what ultimately led to Vladimir’s

utter sorrow of finding out about the love between Zinaida and his father: “The

sudden revelation crushed me; all was ended. In one swoop all my flowers were

torn up by the roots and lay about me – scattered, broken, trampled underfoot

(94).” Vladimir, unknowingly, set himself up to be hurt badly by not seeing

that the relationship between him and Zinaida was merely platonic, in her eyes.

But Vladimir eventually realized how childish his love was and thus shed his

innocence: “I had suddenly grown much older, and my love, with all its violent

excitements and its torments, now seemed even to me so very puny and childish

and trivial? (102)”

Tatyana experienced these same feelings of rapturous emotion in her love

for Eugene Onegin. “And in her heart the thought was planted?/ Until at last

her fate was granted:/ She fell in love. For thus indeed/ Does spring awake the

buried seed (60).” Like Vladimir, Tatyana fell very deeply for Eugene and lived

day to day on an emotional love high. She gave herself completely to him, as if

he was her only guardian: “Tatyana’s love is deep and true:/ She yields without

conditions, boldly–/ As sweet and trusting children do (69).” Tatyana was

accurately characterized as a needy child who placed her whole life in the hands

of a man who didn’t want her. Although this gave her a feeling of happiness

and security, at first, pain and suffering soon follow.

When Eugene rejected Tatyana’s hand in marriage, Tatyana falls into a

deep depression which affects the rest of her life. The initial reaction to his

rejection was one of devastation for her. “Within her heart the frenzied

beating/ Coursed on and never ceased to press/ Her gentle soul, athirst with

aching;/ Nay, ever more intensely quaking,/ Poor Tanya burns in joyless throes;/

Sleep shuns her bed, all sweetness goes,/ The glow of life has vanished starkly

(93);” It was as if Eugene had ripped her heart out and smashed it to pieces.

This agony continued on even when Eugene left the country. Tatyana’s obsession

with him was so intense that she tried to find consolation in his empty home.

But she only fell deeper in pain: “And once inside that silent study,/ Sealed

off at last from everybody,/ The world for just a time forgot,/ Tatyana wept and

mourned her lot? (166)” Tatyana’s pain temporarily subsided when she went to

Moscow and married, but, when Eugene shows up, her emotions cannot be controlled.

Tatyana tried to resist Eugene, at first, but, when she read his letter of love,

she fell to pieces:

Quite unadorned, her face gone white/ Above some letter that she’s reading–/

And cheek in hand as down she peers,/ She softly sheds a flood of tears./ In

that brief instant then, who couldn’t/ Have read her tortured heart at last!/

And in the princess then, who wouldn’t/ Have known poor Tanya from the past!


Even after years of being away from Eugene, Tatyana’s first love was still very

prominent in her mind. But Tatyana, having matured, did not allow her emotions

to control her. By politely declining to go with Eugene, she showed that she is

no longer the weak child that he was able to toy with before.

Although the first loves of both Vladimir and Tatyana were very

emotionally trying, the experience allowed them to make the transition from

innocent youth to enlightened adulthood. The feelings associated with love

range from the highest highs to the lowest lows, but only the experience of a

first love can allow someone to control these emotions.

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