Notes from Underground

An Analysis of the Anti-Utopian Notion in “Notes from Underground” College

Notes from Underground, completed in 1864, is considered one of Dostoevsky’s most deviously insightful works, famous for its gloomy description of not only the dark historical period but also the dark environment in which the protagonist lives. This is a novel that attacks moralism, rationalism, utilitarianism and utopian idealism. After a thorough reading, one can locate abundant clues and evidence to support that one of the core themes of Notes from Underground is the fight against the world that people would call civilized, i.e. the ideal world that people are longing for, and the world that “I”, the protagonist of the story, will deny.

The opening paragraphs of the story clearly convey the protagonist’s view of life, personality and the status of his rationality. Almost immediately, we learn that the protagonist is afflicted by illness but refuses to receive medical treatment. He says, “My liver hurts; well, then let it hurt even worse”(3). He interprets medical treatment as “harming only myself and no one else.” This reveals how clearly he understands his illness. That he chooses not to see a doctor proves the protagonist’s advocacy for free will and the power of this free will could make him choose to tolerate the pain...

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