Essay about Notes from Underground

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One word that has come to represent the mid-18th century Enlightenment movement is “Reason”. The French philosophes believed that reason could provide critical, informed, scientific solutions to social issues and problems, and essentially improve the human condition. Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground is one of the most famous anti-Enlightenment novels for its rejection of these very notions. Through this novel he showed what he believed were gaps in the idea that the mind could be freed from ignorance through the application of reason, and the rejection of the idea that humankind could achieve a utopian existence as a result.
The story revolves around the thoughts and rants of an unnamed character that we shall …show more content…

These statements suggests that men are not rational by nature, and it is the ability to exert one’s own free will, to be able “to live… at our own sweet foolish will,” that is more valued. Man’s freedom of choice should not be controlled by anything – even reason.
Despite his unpleasant attitude, the Underground Man does crave attention from others and wants to be respected for his intelligence and knowledge. However, he is completely unable to interact with people normally, a characteristic that is perhaps best illustrated through his experiences with the officer who casually pushes him aside one night when the Underground Man is looking for a fight (48). He tries to bring himself to challenge the officer, but lacks the “moral courage” to do so because he is convinced that if anyone were to witness him protesting and speaking “literary Russian,” they would “misunderstand and jeer at [him]” (49). He becomes obsessed with the idea of confronting the officer, dedicating “several years” (49) to “gather[ing] information” about him, even taking a pay advance to buy clothing that he believes will make him and the officer seem “on an equal footing in the eyes of high society” (52). Instigating a conflict is the only way that the Underground Man knows how to somehow participate in life, and regardless of whether or not the interaction he has is a negative one, it’s something. Though it

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