Guilty Betrayal in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon Essay

Guilty Betrayal in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon Essay

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Guilty Betrayal in Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon


Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon depicts the fallacious logic of a totalitarian regime through the experiences of Nicolas Salmanovitch Rubashov. Rubashov had fought in the revolution and was once part of the Central Committee of the Party, but he is arrested on charges of instigating attempted assassinations of No. 1, and for taking part in oppositional, counter-revolutionary activities, and is sent to a Soviet prison. Rubashov, in his idle pacing throughout his cell, recollects his past with the Party. He begins to feel impulses of guilt, most especially in those moments he was required to expel devoted revolutionaries from the Party, sending them to their death. These subconscious feelings of guilt are oftentimes represented physically in the form of toothache or through day- or night-dreams. As his thought progresses with the novel, he begins to recognize his guilt, which emerges alongside his individuality. It remains in his subconscious, and it is not until Rubashov absolves himself through silent resignation at his public trial that he is fully conscious of guilt. By joining the Party, Rubashov allows himself to forget the questions of human nature and of his individuality. The nature of his guilt lies in this betrayal of his individuality.

Early in the novel, Rubashov experiences a chronic toothache that he later associates with recollections of past events or people for which he now feels guilty, although he did not feel so at the time. The toothache appears upon recollection of Richard's and Little Loewy's expulsion from the Party, and of Rubashov's inaction towards the expulsion and execution of Arlova. It occurs on "the right eye-tooth which [is...


... middle of paper ...


...duality and still be a devoted Party member.

Rubashov is guilty for the expulsion of many innocent Party members, but ultimately for the sacrifice of the knowledge of his identity for the Party system. Upon his arrest, he has felt his subconscious attempt to reach him through toothache and shivers. These physical manifestations of his guilt allow him to become fully conscious of his guilt and, consequently, the fallibility of the Party's beliefs and methods. Rubashov is also subconsciously aware that he must pay for his guilt. There is no method for redemption, save for dying in silence. Rubashov's resignation to silence during his public trial is his expression of individuality, his complete divergence from Party principle in the suppression of the individual.

Works Cited:

Koestler, Arthur. Darkness at Noon . New York: New American Library, 1948.


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