In the present paper I plan to analyze the characters of Hermann from Alexander Pushkin's "Queen of Spades", Akaky Akakyevich from Nocolai Gogol's "The Overcoat", and the Underground Man from Dostoevsky's "Notes From the Underground". The characters will be looked at from the perspective of a conflict each of them has with their surrounding reality.
Alexander Sergeevich Pushkin is considered to be the greatest Russian poet of all time and very much respected literary figure in the rest of the world. The period of Russian literature which Pushkin was an essential part of is referred to as The Golden Age. His fascinating life and tragic death at the age of thirty-seven is a subject of many books written by literary historians. The magnitude of Pushkin's poetic work is quite impressive, considering his early death, however; he is also known for his prose fiction that was written from 1827 and 1836 (Jahn). Some of his most notable historic novels include "The Negro Of Peter the Great" and "The Captain's Daughter". In terms of short stories, "Tales of Belkin", which was a collection of five stories, and "The Queen of Spade" really stand out among of Pushkin's fiction stories.
"The Queen of Spades" was published in 1834 , and in our time, it is considered to be Pushkin's most successful prose work.
Hermann, the main character of the story, is stereotypical example of a German in Russian literature. He is very pragmatic, especially when it comes to money. This is evident from the first page that describes a late night card game at Narumov's house, who is Herman's friend. The main character is very interested in the card game and night after night he joins his friends and watches them gamble, though he does not bet any of his own money. As one of the gusts at the table notes: "And what about Hermann? He's never in his life had a card in his hand, never bent down a paroli, yet he will sit with us until five in the morning watching our game." (Debreczeny,1983, p. 211) To which Hermann replies: "The game interests me very much, but I am not in a position to sacrifice the necessary in the hope of gaining the superfluous." Hermann's father left him forty-seven thousand capital after his death, of which Hermann didn’t spend a penny.
It must be noted, that Herman's fiends are members of the elite Horse Guard, which means that they are of a much higher social and financial status than Hermann, who is an engineer living on his small salary. It's clear right from the beginning of the story that Herman is really into gambling, though he does not spend any money on it. So it is logical to conclude that if Hermann had more money, he would definitely like to gamble. This is very contradictory to the main character's pragmatic and thrifty façade. In reality there is a second side to Hermann - he is also a stereotypical romantic, who is very passionate about things, especially gambling. This fact creates a conflict between the main character and the world around him. His aspirations and hopes of playing cards and getting rich are crushed by the realities and circumstances of his life.
After hearing a story about Tomkskii's grandmother, Countess Anna Fedotovna, Hermann becomes obsessed with the idea of fulfilling his dreams by knowing the secret card combination that will make him rich. The extent of this is evident in Hermann's thought process: "What if the old Countess revealed her secret to me? If she named the three reliable cards for me? Why not try my luck? …I could be introduced to her, get into her good graces, become her lover if need be." (Debreczeny, 1983, p. 219) The main character dreams of cards, heaps of bank notes, and piles of gold coins. This obsession completely consumes him and he comes up with a plan to get to the Countess through her ward, Lizaveta Ivanovna.
Hermann only pretends to love...