The Use of Numbers in The Queen of Spades

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The Use of Numbers in The Queen of Spades The use of numbers, especially the three and to a lesser extent the seven, is of major importance in Alexander Pushkin's The Queen of Spades. The use of three permeates the text in several ways, these being major, minor, and in reference to time. According to Alexandr Slonimsky in an essay written in 1922, "A notion of the grouping of three is dominant..." (429). In the major details of the story, we find "three fantastic moments" (Slonimsky 429), three cards, three major catastrophes, three main characters, and the use of six chapters, six being a multiple of three. The three fantastic moments are: "the story of Tomsky (Chapter 1), the vision of Hermann (Chapter 5), and the miraculous win (Chapter 6)" (429). These three moments form the backbone of the story. In Tomsky's story, one first reads of the three cards guaranteed to produce a winner at the game of faro. What makes this incident fantastic in relation to the story is the importance of the story to the events that follow when contrasted to the nonchalant attitude attributed to those in attendance. The second fantastic incident is that of the appearance of the dead Countess to Hermann. This incident is fantastic in that the three cards named by the Countess are actually the winning cards, meaning the Countess is an apparition and not simply a dream. The final fantastic incident occurs when Hermann miraculously wins at the faro table the first time. The reader now knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the three are magic cards. "The particular significance of the three cards is shown in the rhythmic quality of Hermann's thoughts" (Slonimsky 429). In looking at the original text, the rhythmic quality is much more appa... ... middle of paper ... ...the greatest of the classical literary tradition and is also considered to be one of the triumvirate of great Russian literature. As concerns The Queen of Spades, D.S. Mirsky has this to say, "The Queen of Spades is beyond a doubt Pushkin's masterpiece in prose" (436). Works Cited Mirsky, D.S. Title unknown. 1926. Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism Volume 3. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1983. Pushkin, Alexander. The Queen of Spades. 1834. Trans. Ivy and Tatiana Litvinov. Literature of the Western World, Third Edition, Volume Two. Ed. Brian Wilkie and James Hurt. New York: Macmillin, 1992. 870-890. Slonimsky, Alexandr. Title Unknown. 1922. Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism Volume Three. Ed. Laurie Lanzen Harris. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1983.
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