The Inner Conflicts of Underground Man
In Notes from Underground, Dostoyevsky describes a character burdened with significant inner conflict over love which interferes with his ability to think rationally, prevents him from developing lasting friendships, and cause him to believe he has found true love following a sexual encounter. After being bumped by an officer in a tavern, the Underground Man became obsessed with “revenge” against the officer and planned a subsequent encounter where he could “bump him with [his] shoulder” and not ‘yield an inch,” (133, 135). The Underground Man wants the officer to treat him with dignity and respect and as his equal. However, the Underground Man’s inability to develop an actual relationship with the officer or even engage in a conversation with him is indicative of the Underground Man’s inability to think rationally. This passage shows that the Underground Man’s desperate desire for human interaction irrationally causes him to seek a negative human encounter. Instead of confronting the officer directly, the Underground Man spends months obsessing about the officer before he finally engages in pitiful revenge that leaves him feeling like a failure. The Underground Man learns he is an unwanted guest when one of his former college acquaintances tells him that he has only been invited to a dinner party because he “insisted on joining” them and the Underground Man feels “crushed and humiliated” that his supposed friends don’t really want him at the party (153). This is another example of the Underground Man seeking friendship but his base and rude nature interferes with his objective. He becomes so concerned that his college friends are ridiculing him that he insults one of them. As a result, his friends are disgusted with him and clearly wish he would leave. Although the Underground Man believes he has fallen in love with Liza and wishes to save her from a life of prostitution, he concludes “loving means bullying and...
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