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The Underground Man's Desire For Misery

1365 words - 5 pages

Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground depicts a man who is deeply rooted in a lifestyle of misanthropy and bitterness. He is highly governed by his own burdensome philosophies. The Underground Man (as he will subsequently be referred) lives by the precedent of his own conceptions on how life should be lived. His understanding of the way people should interact socially and how individuals should be engaged emotionally has been thought through thoroughly. He is highly contradictory in his rationalization of his own practices, but appears to rather revile in his own self-pity. The Underground man has a penchant for feeling sorry for himself and rather than take part in society naturally, he forcibly places himself in encounters that will undoubtedly cause him angst or bodily harm. If he were to find himself in the position of Joseph K. in Kafka's The Trial, he would likely be contentedly miserable. He would not be "happy" as such, but the misery would feel familiarly comfortable to him. The Underground Man would respond to the corrupt trial by finding it as an outlet for him to exercise his self-loathing misery that he feels is the ideal state for all conscious and educated men.

In chapter VIII of "Underground" the Underground Man asks of his imaginary audience, "Who wants to want according to a little table?" He is alluding to a popular stream of thought at the time that one might statistically draw out the natural desires and actions of man in full consideration of the basics needs of survival and satiation of entertainment. The Underground man is very highly obsessed with free will. It is his habit to apparently exercise his free will simply for the sake of taking advantage of free will. He decides to go to the dinner for Zverkov even though he clearly is not wanted, partially because of an inexplicable desire to plunge himself into uncomfortable situations. Logic and reason will dictate to a lesser man that he should avoid attending as an unwanted guest. However, in accordance with his nihilistic tendencies, the Underground man decides to combat that social institution of attending only when favored by the other guests in order to arrive at the end of fulfillment of his own sadistic appetite.

Accordingly, he imagines duels and arguments as the only way he can participate in the social world. "Duels and arguments" is probably the easiest way to describe that year of the trial for Joseph K. Everything about the trial is a barrier to him. There is apparently no common law to govern the proceedings and Joseph K's search for any scribed legislation is in vain. Everything seems arbitrary as concerns the trial. The reality that Joseph K encounters is one of distinct contradiction to anything that might be logic to serve the well being of an individual. In the second section of Notes from Underground, "Apropos of the Wet Snow", the Underground Man reveals his own notion of an encounter with reality. After feeling humiliated...

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