To whom, to what will she be true? To what obligations be faithful? Is it to that old General whom she cannot possibly love, whom she married only because “with tears and adjurations her mother did beseech her”, and in her wronged and wounded soul was there then only despair and neither hope nor ray of light at all? Yes, she is true to that General, to her husband, to an honest man who loves her, respects her, and is proud of her. Her mother “did beseech her” but it was she and she alone who consented, she herself swore an oath to be his faithful wife. She married him out of despair. But now he is her husband, and her perfidy [should she succumb to Onegin] would cover him with disgrace and shame and kill him. Can anyone build his happiness on the unhappiness of another? Happiness is not in the delights of love alone, but also in the spirit’s highest harmony. How could the spirit be appeased if behind it stood a dishonorable, merciless, inhuman action? Should she run away merely because her happiness lay therein? What kind of happiness would that be, based on the unhappiness of another?
Imagine that you yourself are building a palace of human destiny for the final end of making all men happy and giving them peace and rest at last. And imagine also that for that purpose it is necessary and inevitable to torture to death one single human being, and him not a great soul, but even in someone’s eyes a ridiculous being, not a Shakespeare but simply an honest old man, the husband of a young wife in whom he believes blindly. He is proud of her and respects her, although he does not know her heart at all. He is happy and at rest. Your palace can be built only if he is disgraced, dishonored, and tortured. On his dishonored suffering, your palace can be built! Would you consent to be the architect on this condition? That is the question. Can you for one moment admit the thought that those for whom the building had been built would agree to receive that happiness from you if its source was suffering. It could perhaps be thought of as the suffering of an insignificant being, but a being who had been cruelly and unjustly put to death. Would they agree even if when they attained that happiness they would be happy forever? Could Tatyana’s great soul, which had so deeply suffered, have chosen otherwise?
No, a pure, Russian soul decides thus: Let me, let me alone be deprived of happiness, even if my happiness be infinitely greater than the unhappiness of this old man. Finally, let no one, not even this old man, know and appreciate my sacrifice: I will not be happy through having ruined another.
—Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pushkin Speech, p. -1