This study will compare and contrast Karolina Pavlova's At the Tea-Table and Ivan Turgenev's Fathers and Sons. The study will focus on the conflicts in the two works involving characters who live according to what might loosely be called feminine or masculine principles. In addition, the contradictions in the definitions of these principles will be explored.
For example, in Turgenev, the feminine principle is held by Nikolai, who values art, romantic love, and religion. The masculine principle is held by Bazarov, who values materialism, science, nihilism and violent revolution, while disdaining the values of the feminine principle. In Pavlova, on the other hand, the masculine principle is held most significantly by the Princess who embodies a love for art, literature and philosophy, and a tendency toward domination, especially in her relationship with Khozrevsky.
Despite these differences in the specifics of the masculine and feminine principles, both works feature this central conflict between the two forces in the human being and in society. At the root of the works' portrayal of these differences is the question of what it is to be human.
The argument of this study will be that to be human is to vulnerable--to love, to art, to beauty--and he or she who tries to deny this human vulnerability in himself or herself (Bazarov in Turgenev, and the Princess in Pavlova) ultimately deny an essential part of their own being.
At times, the conflict concerns characters at odds with one another, and at other times concerns internal contradictions in a single character. For example, in Turgenev, the conflict between the nihilist Bazarov and Arkady's traditionalist father, Nikolai, represents the war between the masculine and the feminine, between the rational and the emotional, between destruction and creativity.
At the same time, the struggle goes on within the character of Bazarov. Bazarov professes to abhor love, for e...