RLST 1117 EL10
Dr. Ron Srigley
March 28th, 2013
Dostoevsky’s short story “Dream of a Ridiculous man”, describes the difficulties of the main character in finding the meaning of life. He is troubled with the idea that life has no meaning and that science and logic only exist, analogized as the “head” in relation to the meaning of life. The story begins with the character believing that nothing in his life matters. He is set on killing himself until one night changes his perspective on the meaning of life completely. He begins to believe that science and logic are not enough to make people happy. He decides that people need something to believe in order to make living life worthwhile.
The short story begins with the classic question of the greater human need: what is the meaning of life? Some say that people are searching for something that holds everything together. There is a need for us to make sense of the world’s past, present, and future (Cicovacki, 2012). A more precise thought is that life is more meaningful if there is a purpose to it. To have a purpose in life gives humans a sense of direction and allows for them to figure out their place in the world. The question is whether this purpose comes from within or from internal or external forces (Cicovacki, 2012). One conception of life is that a “creator”, more powerful than the human world, supplies the purpose of life. This is one of the most significant theories because it has been around for so long. It reassures our existence in the world because it leaves us believing that there is always someone watching us and they will be around for support in times of need. This approach may be difficult to follow because it requires a great deal of faith (Cicovacki, 2012). The main character in “Dream of a Ridiculous man” initially defines the “head” as the meaning of life, meaning that the world exists because of science. He states “Perhaps it was owing to the terrible misery that was growing in my soul through something which was more consequence than anything else about me: that something was the conviction that had come upon me that nothing in the world mattered. I had long had an inkling of it, but the full realization came last year almost suddenly. I suddenly felt that it was all the same to me whether the world existed or whether there had never been anything at all: I began to feel with all my being that there was nothing existing. At first I fancied that many things had existed in the past, but afterwards I guessed that there never had been anything in the past either, but that it has only seemed so far for some reason. Little by little I guessed that there would be nothing in the future either” (Dostoevsky, 1877). The central character of the story feels he has no purpose or direction. He believes that the world would be the same place if he had never existed, which is the basis for his urge to take his own life. There are many people that need to have faith in something-anything, to find motivation to keep living. Daily life can be monotonous and depressing not knowing where you stand or fit in the world. Therefore, the character needs to have some sort of faith to make living worthwhile.
The struggle for the main character continues throughout the short story as he faces confusion about the meaning of life. On the night he has an encounter with a little girl in need; He responds by telling the girl to go away and seek help elsewhere. The character heads back to his apartment and as he sits there with the revolver beside him, contemplating killing himself, he begins to hesitate because the little girl is lingering in his mind. The character states, “You see, though nothing mattered to me, I could feel pain, for instance. If anyone had stuck me it would have hurt me. It was the same morally: if anything very pathetic happened, I should have felt...
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