Social injustice of Underground Man by Fyodor Dostoevsky

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Based on the novel Notes from Underground Man by Fyodor Dostoevsky, readers ought to interpret the Underground Man in many different ways. For example, many people perceive the author as the victim of social injustice while others think of him as an individual with a higher intelligence who has diagnosed inherent problems in modern society or also as the representation of something different than a simple hero/anti-hero. However, after reading the novel is it very clear that the underground man appears as an individual who is NOT a victim of social injustice who we should pity.

One of the reasons is because he is the one who’s creating social injustice with other by despising those who surround him with his belief of superiority and by being jerk to others without a real reason. Also, because his pride makes him an unlikable person who creates unreasonables and darks thoughts in order to satisfied himself. Despising and being jerk to those who surround him make him feel superior and a better person. In the novel is seen that the underground man is an individual who never had the affection of his parents during childhood, reason why he believes that even after death, a child will carry the thoughts and feelings of their parents.

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The lack of not having a family was what makes the underground man behave that way. The first day he met Lizza he presents himself as a parentless child. He mentions “‘See, Liza, I will tell you about myself. If I had had a home from childhood, I shouldn’t be what I am now. I often think that. However bad it may be at home, anyway they are your father and mother, and not enemies, strangers. Once a year at least, they’ll show their love of you. Anyway, you know you are at home. I grew up without a home; and perhaps that’s why I’ve turned so … unfeeling.’”(Dostoevsky 120).

Dostoevsky blames the fact of being a parentless child the only reason why he is a cold heart person. Also, it is shown that the absence of his parents left the underground man without a clue of who is is or what role he needs to play in society. Also, this clearly shows that the underground man despised everyone else because he has been alone his entire life. However he does not realizes that he is the one who is making himself incapable of living the standard life like any other individual would by isolating himself.

Furthermore, the underground finds relieve by despising others and making them feel inferior. This is perfectly exemplifies when he met Liza for the first time and tries to bashes her by saying: “I suddenly began to feel provoked. ‘Why, there must have been water at the bottom a foot Free eBooks at Planet 11 deep. You can’t dig a dry grave in Volkovo Cemetery.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Why? Why, the place is waterlogged. It’s a regular marsh. So they bury them in water.

I’ve seen it myself … many times.’ (I had never seen it once, indeed I had never been in Volkovo, and had only heard stories of it.) ‘Do you mean to say, you don’t mind how you die?’ ‘But why should I die?’ she answered, as though defend- ing herself. ‘Why, some day you will die, and you will die just the same as that dead woman. She was … a girl like you. She died of consumption.’ ‘A wench would have died in hospital …’ (She knows all about it already: she said ‘wench,’ not ‘girl.’) ‘She was in debt to her madam,’ I retorted, more and more provoked by the discussion; ‘and went on earning money for her up to the end, though she was in consump- tion. Some sledge-drivers standing by were talking about her to some soldiers and telling them so.

No doubt they knew her. They were laughing. They were going to meet in a pot-house to drink to her memory.’ A great deal of this was my invention. Silence followed, profound silence. She did not stir. ‘And is it better to die in a hospital?’ ‘Isn’t it just the same? Besides, why should I die?’ she add- ed irritably. 11 Notes from the Underground ‘If not now, a little later.’ ‘Why a little later?’ ‘Why, indeed? Now you are young, pretty, fresh, you fetch a high price.

But after another year of this life you will be very different—you will go off.’ ‘In a year?’ ‘Anyway, in a year you will be worth less,’ I continued malignantly. ‘You will go from here to something lower, an- other house; a year later— to a third, lower and lower, and in seven years you will come to a basement in the Haymarket. That will be if you were lucky. But it would be much worse if you got some disease, consumption, say … and caught a chill, or something or other. It’s not easy to get over an ill- ness in your way of life. If you catch anything you may not get rid of it. And so you would die’”(Dostoevsky 115-117).

Evidently, the underground man is an individual who does not see other people greatness beside his. He is the type of person who seems to be angry with himself and is tries to find his own identity and relieve while crushing those in order to make himself feel great. The underground man believe that by showing dominance over those who surround him he will be content and love. (Secondary source) The underground man appears as an intelligent man with a conscious mind but, who also has irrational thought.

This may present the underground man as an unlikable person since for many readers he may be seen as an arrogant man who is only aware of things for his own benefit. For example, in his novel he mentions “They were all stupid, and as like one another as so many sheep. Perhaps I was the only one in the office who fancied that I was a coward and a slave, and I fancied it just because I was more highly developed. But it was not only that I fan- cied it, it really was so. I was a coward and a slave. I say this without the slightest embarrassment.

Every decent man of our age must be a coward and a slave. That is his normal condition. Of that I am firmly persuaded. He is made and constructed to that very end. And not only at the present time owing to some casual circumstances, but always, at all times, a decent man is bound to be a coward and a slave. It is the law of nature for all decent people all over the earth. If anyone of them happens to be valiant about something, he need not be comforted nor carried away by that; he would show the white feather just the same before something else. That is how it invariably and inevitably ends.

Only donkeys and mules are valiant, and they only till they are pushed up to the wall. It is not worth while to pay attention to them for they really are of no consequence” (Dostoevsky 58). It is shown that the underground man does not want to arrive at certainty by making all this irrational reasoning. Also, it seems that is an issue of pride and ego. He wants the things to get done his way so he would be satisfied but this only shows that he is stubborn. The fact that the author gave the underground man the power to have a great level of intelligence makes this character take dominance over everyone else and makes him defines what is decent and good based on his own self but at the same time makes his principles look dubiously. Peter Roberts’ The Stranger Within: Dostoevsky’s underground supports the claim about the underground man being such an irrational person.

Thus, he argues that his novel only confuses the readers. Robert asserts, “The novel’s setting in mid-nineteenth century Russia is unfamiliar territory for many of us; Dostoevsky’s style of writing is complex and odd; and the actions and thoughts of the Underground Man appear to be utterly irrational and inexplicable”(Roberts 397-398). The irrational thoughts of the underground man makes him a victim of his own not a individual who suffer of social injustice.

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Social injustice of Underground Man by Fyodor Dostoevsky. (2022, Dec 29). Retrieved from

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