preview

Nihilist Philosophy

Good Essays
Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons takes place in midnineteenth century Russia. Throughout the text Turgenev explores the pros and cons of the nihilist philosophy and how nihilism, coupled with the presence of generational and class based animosities, affects the greater Russian identity. Properties of nihilism are examined and tested as the characters encounter aristocratic lifestyles and the redeeming power of love. The female characters in Fathers and Sons represent a wide range of socioeconomic positions and temperaments, these women test the thinking of the nihilists by their propensities towards emotion, order, feminism, shyness, and propriety. This exploration of gender roles and the balance of power between women and the men that they control is subject to their ascribed classes and the relationships they hold. These women fall into two major categories: the autocratic and the dependent. The aristocratic “mothers” and dependent “daughters” of Fathers and Sons bring about the reevaluation of Bazarov and Arkady’s nihilistic beliefs and furthermore utilize their feminine qualities to manipulate the men in their lives.

The aristocratic women or rather the “mothers” enjoy the benefits of wealth and high society and use their perspective abilities to influence men. These women portray three very different kinds of female roles. Arina Barzarova the selfless caretaker, Evdoksya Kukshina the independent feminist, and Anna Odintsova who is both guardian and liberal, but all maintain emotional, social, and romantic control over the men in their lives. Arina Vlasevna Bazarova, the overly emotional mother of Enyushka Bazarova, is an intensely superstitious woman who “believed in all manner of omens, soothsayings, incantations, and pr...

... middle of paper ...

... destroy and reinstate the bonds of family and Russian nationalism. Turgenev explores hoe this generational divide interacts with the division among classes and how the powers of the aristocracy affects the younger generation and feminine identity. Throught these interactions the power of love as redemption is seen in the relationship between Arkady and Katya as well as Anna and Bazarov. The women in Fathers and Sons symbolize the diversity found within the same class and generational margins these women challenge the men they encounter and cease power over their relationships. The struggle for power, between the sexes is dependent upon the roles and social standings of the perspective character. The female characters whether aristocratic or dependent, “mothers” or “daughters” find power in their gender and utilize their womanly intellect to find eventual resolve.