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Dostoyevsky Response

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Notes from Underground is the narrative of a slightly mad, extremely alienated recluse set in St. Petersburg in the mid 1800s. The text is divided into two parts: in the first, the anonymous Underground Man describes his views of the world, society, and human nature, most of which stem from his inability to integrate himself into society; the second part describes events in the Underground Man's life that explain how he descended into madness and isolation.

The events in Part II are quite simple: one afternoon, the protagonist visits an old friend, and invites himself to a dinner for a mutual acquaintance. He goes to the dinner, but acts rudely and humiliates himself. He follows the dinner party to a brothel nonetheless, determined to either clear his honor or win their friendship. At the brothel, he loses the dinner guest but meets and hires a young prostitute. He tries to convince her to give up prostitution. He then tells her to visit him, but when she does, he explodes at her and reveals that he only sought to humiliate her, since he had been so humiliated. The prostitute leaves and the Underground Man is left alone.

The Underground man is never named and we know only that he is a minor civil servant, fairly poor, and unaccomplished in his professional life. All of the other characters are viewed through the lens of the crazed Underground Man's observations. This view offers the reader a unique perspective as to how he sees and understands the world around him. In his self-analysis, he searches for the truth and good in his world, which seems hard to find.



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