Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground the

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Nancy Kelly Leahy Humanities Paper 1 You cannot think yourself free. Such is the Underground Man’s struggle. Isolating himself from society he sits in his corner, scribbling words on a page to an imagined audience. When he puts the pen down, sets those words aside, he still sits in his corner and nothing has changed. He is still irreversibly dissatisfied and unfulfilled with the liberal sentiments of Russia’s 19th century intelligentsia, but he is more profoundly dissatisfied by his own inability to escape or change it. In Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground the character torments himself with isolation and inaction. Yet, he halfheartedly rationalizes this aloofness by proclaiming his superior intelligence. How the Underground Man perceives himself and the reality of his condition can be elucidated for Dostoevsky’s readers through Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” Underground Man’s most egregious flaw is his over awareness and his consequent inability to act in fear of being judged and for fear of failing. He considers himself to be the enlightened thinker, walking above the ground, looking down in disdain at the ignorant masses living their meaningless lives. However, his isolation and inaction bind him in chains in the lowest level of the cave. As evident through his self-indulgent behavior, he is the manifestation of liberal society. He is the only and most important person in his life. He is the “I.” Throughout his life, Fyodor Dostoevky was perturbed by the liberal direction of thinking that circulated among the upper echelon of society. Those who condoned these ideas emphasized the individual over society. They (the “gentleman” or Underground Man’s audience) espoused ideas of capitalism and encouraged the ambitious, singular pursuits of every man. Dostoevsky opposed liberal society, believing it corrupts as morality is replaced by
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