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The Queen of Spades

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In 2014, American Hustle topped the box office charts and was celebrated by critics alike. The film praised con artists and even portrayed them as light-hearted, “comedic figures” (Surowiecki). Americans condemn rapists and murders, yet we idolize con artists and often strive to achieve the most out of life with the least amount of work. People are constantly looking for shortcuts and quick solutions, making us bait to the cons of our society. The premise of the film is the idea that people are always self-interested and will believe what they want to believe. This idea is hardly new to literature and films. In Alexander Pushkin’s Romantic era fiction novel, The Queen of Spades, “Everyone is out for what he or she can get” (Sarah Lawall 801) and many of the characters fall victim to scams.
The Queen of Spades is centered on high-stake card games. The meaning of the games can be taken both literally and figuratively. “Card games have been seen traditionally as metaphors for life, where fate decides the outcome” (Pavliscak). The story focuses on Hermann, a Russian officer. A frugal and cautious man, Hermann spends his night observing card games from afar rather than actually participating in them. He learns of an elder countess that knows of a series of cards played in sequence that always guarantees success. Hermann becomes obsessed with discovering the secret. He attempts to seduce Elizaveta Ivanovna, the poverty-stricken dependent of the Countess, to unravel the card mystery. Hermann sneaks into the Countess’s household, under the pretense of meeting with Elizaveta. He, instead enters the Countess’s bedroom and frightens her to death in an attempt to learn the card secret. Later, Hermann is haunted by the Countess’s ghost and ...

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...hey want to believe.

Work Cited
"American Hustle." UWIRE Text 27 Dec. 2013: 1. Academic OneFile. Web. 4 May 2014.
Lawall, Sarah. “Alexander Sergeyvich Pushkin.” The Norton Anthology of Western Literature.
Ed. Sarah. Lawall. 8th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 2006. 800-01. Print.
Pavliscak, Pamela. "The Queen Of Spades." Magill’S Survey Of World Literature, Revised Edition. (2009): 1. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
Pushkin, Alexander Sergeyevich. The Queen of Spades. The Norton Anthology of Western Literature.
Ed. Sarah. Lawall. 8th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Norton, 2006. 801-20. Print.
Rinkus, Jerome J. "The Queen Of Spades." Cyclopedia Of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition (1998): 1. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 28 Apr. 2014.
Surowiecki, James. "Do the Hustle." The New Yorker. The New Yorker, 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.
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