Colonel Chabert Essay

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In the novel Colonel Chabert by Honore de Balzac, there exist a multitude of systems that through their interactions influence the life of one man, Colonel Chabert. Within the novel, at first, it doesn’t seem apparent that there are even any systems at play. However, systems are always at play. Namely, the systematic interactions of the legal system, economic system, and social system affect Colonel Chabert more prominently than some others. Whether within fiction or reality the interactions of systems are either working to benefit someone or oppress someone. In the beginning of Colonel Chabert the social and legal systems quickly appear. Colonel Chabert walks into a law office seeking for help. Balzac gives some preface of how the law office works by stating, “Attorneys, on principle, do not have many chairs in their offices.” This could very be a social and legal system interaction, social because the lawyer thinks himself to be above his client and legal because it’s a common principle? It doesn’t stop there. The clerks within the office immediately speculate who Colonel Chabert is by looking at the way he dresses with “a shabby box coat”, as though this should affect his want of representation. Immediately these systems come into play to oppress Colonel Chabert and not to benefit him. The legal and economic systems also come together against Chabert. There is a point in the book where Chabert is making demands for his fortune and his wife. He believes that he is entitled to both since he is now alive. However, his lawyer Derville knows things aren’t so simple. Derville makes the statement that, “things do not happen this way in the legal world”, essentially meaning that the laws are hard to circumvent especially in their system. Derville knows that the papers that he receives that prove Colonel Chabert is who he says he is will be disputed. Derville

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