Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground - Exposing the Unseen Depths of the Human Mind

Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground - Exposing the Unseen Depths of the Human Mind

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Dostoevsky’s Notes from the Underground - Exposing the Unseen Depths of the Human Mind


The lights are on but nobody’s home. My elevator doesn’t go to the top. I’m not playing with a full deck. I’ve lost my marbles. ….cause I am cra-a-zy! Just like yooou! -Barenaked Ladies

Crazy. That is how Dostoevsky’s man from the underground is referred to as he writes his notes-- his paradox on life. Is he crazy? Are his ramblings only the cries of a madman? Many would like to think so and our narrator would probably agree that they are only normal in thinking that. They are "decent" people. And yet, maybe there is a bit of truth in these notes. Perhaps we are all crazy. No? Ok, we are all decent people who function effectively in society. But what if there were hidden secrets behind the surface of this decency? “Dostoevsky uses his narrator to reveal those unseen depths of the human mind. His "craziness" is merely an amplification of what all people have inside of them. This man from the underground attempts to break these chains, but he too is human, and can never completely escape. He tries to uncover our eyes to a cycle to which humans are forever subject”( Morson 482 ).

Knowing of their contempt for him, our narrator follows his old schoolmates to a brothel wanting to prove that he is unconquerable. He follows to undermine the superiority that he knows they feel over him. It is from this spiteful drive that the man from the underground finds his way to Liza, his closest experience to genuine happiness. Instead of being faced with another round of proving himself, he finds that they had all "gone their separate ways". It is her face that catches his attention when she comes in the room: "There was something simple and kind in...


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... This deceptiveness festers until one can no longer be distinguished from any other. He conforms to the "generalhumanness." He becomes a slave to society and loses the courage to break the chains that keep him from being vulnerable. This cycle makes him normal. He is what is expected.

Works Cited

Coetzee, J. M. “Confession and Double Thoughts: Tolstoy, Rousseau, Dostoevsky.” Comparative Literature, Vol. 37, No. 3. (Summer, 1985):193-232.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. Three Short Novels: Notes from the Underground. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1960.

Matlaw, Ralph. “Structure and Integration in Notes from the Underground.” PMLA 73.1 (March 1958): 101-109.

Morson, Gary Saul. “Paradoxical Dostoevsky.” The Slavic and East European Journal 43.3 (Autumn 1999): 471-494.

Paris, Bernard. “Notes from Underground: A Horneyan Analysis.” PMLA 88.3 (May 1973): 511-522.

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