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 livedů. (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 anything - whatever 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 trivialů (102)"
Tatyana experienced these same feelings of rapturous emotion in her love
for Eugene Onegin.