Notes from the Underground

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Notes From the Underground, a Realistic Literary Piece





The book, Notes From the Underground, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, summarizes the life of a low-ranking civil servant in the late 1th century. Through the experiences, and beliefs of this main character, Dostyevsky created a realistic feel, that dominated the novel and took us inside the mind of this depressing individual, the Underground Man. Realism in the novel is apparent in that the character is applicable to daily life, and people can relate to him, the readers can correlate to the main characters good intentions and short comings, and can sympathize with the difficulties of human relations that the Underground Man displays.


In his book, Dostyevsky discloses a character that is applicable to everyday life that people can connect with. Realists focused in on “real” people, usually middle class Joe’s that readers could relate to on a broader scale. The point of this novel wasn’t to introduce a character that rose above reality, but to portray a character that participated in truth in all its intricacies and difficulty. “I used to be in the government service, but am no longer. I was a spiteful official. I was rude and took pleasure in being so . . .I was in the service that I might have something to eat (and solely for that reason), and when last year a distant relation left me six thousand roubles in his will I immediately retired from the service and settled down in my corner,” (Notes from the Underground, pg. ). This quote shows how similar the U.M. is to so many of us in the world today. We work, because we have to, yet if an alternative answer to putting food on the table becomes available, with the blink of an eye we take the easy, slothful way out. In addition, he goes on to explain how he is this unattractive man, consumed with disease, and filled with problems and a somewhat hatred for himself. Although to the extreme, so often in this world, we focus on the bad in our lives, and become paranoid and overwhelmed with worry preventing us from living, as the U.M. clearly displays, “I AM A SICK MAN . . . .I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased” (pg. 1). The protagonist is definitely a character that everyone can find something to relate to on some level, through his many beliefs, and uncertainties that consume his life. Not only is he applicable, but he also doesn’t always succeed with his good intentions.


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The book also clearly depicts the U.M. as a character with good intentions and shortcomings. Through the introduction of the prostitute Liza into the U.M.’s world we are able to see him care about another individual. He shows sympathy towards her, and concern. “Anything may happen. I am convinced that someone has wronged you, and that you are more sinned against, then sinning. Of course, I know nothing of your story, but it’s not likely a girl like you has come here our of her own inclination . . ..” (Pg. 65). However upon the return of Liza the following day, he fails in fear, and pushes her away. “This time she understood it all. I had insulted her finally . . .I was a despicable man, and what was worse, incapable of loving her” (pg. 87-88). The Underground man tries to be good, and runs after her after pushing her away, but through his short comings is unsuccessful. Some of the U.M.’s shortcomings are a result of his social problems.


The U.M. has difficulties with human relations. When depressed and feeling a love for mankind the U.M. turns to go visit his supervisor to chat. The visits always turned out disastrous since the U.M. would get nervous and uncomfortable. He therefore pushed himself away from society and people, “I made friend with no one and positively avoided talking, and buried myself more and more in my hole” (pg. ). The U.M. like many people in today’s society didn’t know how to act socially, and have interactions with people, therefore he feared the outside world and in turn shut himself off, making it more and more difficult to relate to others outside his “cave.” Through these examples it is apparent that the U.M. leads a lonely life.


Through the writings of Dostoyevsky, the exploration of a realistic novel is challenged in a time when the stretches of literature had not been perused. The novel, Notes from the Underground focuses on a man who has lost himself in the world, and through his many troubles, shortcomings, and difficulties with human relations we are all able to meet him on some level. This character was a masterpiece at its best and continues to awe readers to this day.





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