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The Psychology of The Gambler Essay

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The Psychology of The Gambler

 
In Fyodor Dostoyevsky's The Gambler, we are presented with a novel whose protagonist is what we would call today a problem gambler.  The gambling mania of the story's hero, Alexei Ivanovitch, is a mirror of Dostoyevsky's own gambling compulsion.  The heroine, Polina Alexandrovna, represents a woman Dostoyevsky had as a real lover.  Polina is the stepdaughter of the General, who Alexei works for as a servant.  The General shows paranoia over gambling from the outset of the story.  He censures Alexei with respect to his care of the children, "I suppose you would like to take them to the Casino to play roulette?  Well, excuse my speaking so plainly, but I know how addicted you are to gambling.  Though I am not your mentor, nor wish to be, at least I have a right to require that you shall not actually compromise me" (Dostoyevsky 1-2).  The theme of gambling and its psychological impact on the characters pervades The Gambler.  Because of his own gambling addiction and his intimate knowledge of the class-conscious casino society of his era, Dostoyevsky does an excellent job of showing the psychology that compels the problem gambler.

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Using diary entries as his literary vehicle, Dostoyevsky takes us inside the minds of his characters in a way that makes us voyeurs because of his realistic portrayal and honest disclosure of human emotion and sentiments.  The story revolves around Roulettenberg, a German spa town where the rich gamble.  We get the inner life of Alexei as it is portrayed in his diaries.  He is poor but educated, and he is very aware of his class in society.  He is conflicted, however, because he both covets and ridicules the lifestyle of the aristocracy with all its pretensi...


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...ostoyevsky 70).  Thus, Dostoyevsky does an excellent job at showing how individual consciousness and the environment in which it develops both lead to problem gambling.

WORKS  CITED

Anonymous.  Easy come, easy go...Maybe.  The Wager.  Vol. 5, No. 43, Harvard Medical School, Nov 1, 2000: 1-3.

Dostoyevsky, F.  The Gambler, (1866).  Trans. By C. J. Hogarth.  Project Gutenberg.  Jun 30, 2000: 1-101.

McKay, C.  The Gambler, (Review).  eGambling.  Available: http://www.camh.net/egambling/issue6/review, 1-5.

Note:  All numbers, symbols, letters, etc. found within parenthesis are actual page numbers from the hard copy of the source.  Numbers following are the electronic page numbers from that source as it prints from the World Wide Web (WWW)  If there are no page numbers in parenthesis then only electronic page numbers are available at the Internet site.


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