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Modern Utopian And Rationality In Notes From Underground

1073 words - 5 pages

In Fyodor Dostoevsky’s mordant novella Notes from Underground, the reoccurring themes involving consciousness vs. unconsciousness, suffering, and stagnant philosophical ignorance are utilized to portray the Underground Man as a fantastic representation of an alienated, anti-society being; overall demonstrating the impractical nature of any attempt at an utopian communist civilization.
Dostoevsky displays his protagonist, the “Underground Man” as an unrealistically cynical and pessimistic man whom is spiteful against society just for the sake of being spiteful. By not giving his character a name, Dostoevsky is implying that while the Underground Man is a man of fiction and fantasy, it is inevitable that people of this stature exist in a society that continues to support the spread of communism. Furthermore, when asked about the nature of the underground man, Dostoevsky responded that similar characters “not only may, but must exist in our society” (580). While this statement, as well as the Underground Man’s constant belittling of his audience, causes one to think of the Underground Man as a nonconformist and an overall outsider, he is largely employed as a symbol highlighting the issues with absolute conformity and Utopianism. As long as people act out pure spite towards the system, absolute communism and the theory of Utopia is unattainable.
The reoccurring theme of consciousness vs. unconsciousness demonstrates the paralyzing virus to government and cultural conformity that is overly analytical thought. The underground man is plagued by hyperconscious thinking. He describes his thought process as “in accord with the normal fundamental laws of over-acute consciousness… and that consequently [he] was not only unable to change, but could do absolutely nothing” (586). This describes that if a man were truly purely “conscious” and knowledgeable about both sides of a decision, as well as the direct and long term consequences of any action, he would not be able to decide on the best course of action. It would be merely impossible for someone to outweigh the all positives and negatives of an act. However, not making a choice, is making a choice itself, proving that hyperconsciousness pushes one into misery and discontent. He later states that he “consider[s himself] an intelligent man, only because all [his] life [he has] been able neither to begin nor to finish anything” (591). The statement is a paradox within itself, one can’t finish something because one never starts anything; however, and how can a man be intelligent if he never starts a thought or idea. Ultimately the Underground Man has utilized himself as the model for intelligence, for he measures intelligence by how consciousness one is. He furthermore demonstrates that he cannot even bring himself to finish his notes, for they do not require a conclusion, and no conclusion would suffice. While appearing ridiculously over critical, Dostoevsky employs the Underground Man’s unreliability and...

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