Gogol As St. Petersburg. "Diary Of A Madman", By Nikolai Vasilevich Gogol

1381 words - 6 pages

Within Diary of a Madman, Gogol attempts a tale of epic proportions, if only for the schizophrenic mumblings of a character so immersed in his own psychosis that he fails to realize that the entire world does not share his own delusions. Through numerous journal entries, Aksenty Ivanovich Poprishchin leads us throughout his world, from his mediocre job and crush on his employer's daughter, to his encounters with dogs of higher intelligence, to the torments he undergoes at the hands of the Spanish 'Inquisitor.' This is a tale of suffering; Poprishchin is just a pathetic, Walter Mitty-esque soul who's only pleasure lies within his own imagination. When his only possible bridge to an escape from this world collapses, when his employer's daughter Sophie rejects him, his world ceases to exist in the normal realm, and wholly resides through his journal entries and his subsequent trek to Spain to claim what is rightfully his throne. In the end, this 'throne' turns out to be the other side of his mind.This decline in consciousness begins with the very first entry. Even upon writing this initial entry, one questions the reasoning behind it: why does Poprishchin decide to begin keeping a journal? Has he perhaps always kept one, but just needed a new book, or has someone given him a gift that he feels he must utilize? One possibility is that Poprishchin decides that something has finally happened in his life that is worth recording for prosperity. The very first sentence of the first record, dated October 3, rather proves this theory, 'Today the most extraordinary thing happened to me.'1 Poprishchin then begins to tell of the day's events leading up to this 'most extraordinary' event, showing to the reader that he is rather unlearned in the art of journal writing--he writes of every little insignificant detail that happened to him from when he overslept in the morning to when he finally spies upon Sophie, the daughter of the director of his civil service department.Sophie meets up with two other women in the street, and each party has a dog in tow. Poprishchin is shocked to discover that as each female party greets the other, their respective dogs exchange pleasantries as well. Before the dogs part company, Sophie's dog Madgy reminds the other dog Fidele of the letter that is currently in route to her. At this point Poprishchin is still fairly comfortable within his sanity, in that he realizes that he's never heard of a correspondence between dogs before; however, he then goes off on a tangent relating to an English fish that swam out from the beach, said two indecipherable words, and swam back out to sea, leaving scientists and grammatists stumped for the past few years. It seems that whenever Sophie is mentioned in his writings, Poprishchin's sanity begins to falter. She obviously seems to hold the thread that keeps his reason intact.Poprishchin then vows to discover what all is behind these dogs' correspondence, especially Madgy's, if only for the fact...

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