Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Double

1102 Words5 Pages
Golyadkin, surrounded by “rubbish, litter, and odds and ends of all sorts” stands in the cold dark, on a stair landing, insisting to himself he’s “like everyone else” and perfectly “all right” for three hours, thinking of bald heads and Jesuits (25, 29). Truly a “Petersburg poem”, Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Double presents an illustrative representation of the human product of Petersburg: a Golyadkin, split between an exposed/rational body and subjugated/irrational soul. In a gothic division of psyche, Golyadkin’s repressed irrationality becomes his double, Golyadkin junior. Golyadkin senior is best described as a rational “rag”: repressed, soulless. Dostoevsky argues confinement and subjugation of the self—through Russian society, as personified in the dank St. Petersburg—is perverse, creating inhuman caricatures of men. Gothic techniques illustrate the extent of Golyadkin’s subjugation. As in Poor Folk, Petersburg is a city with intention; it punishes and ravages. Dostoevsky’s Petersburg is negatively personified in The Double to heighten the idea that the city itself creates the unnatural ‘rational egoist’. Gothic technique features in this concept of Petersburg-as-villain: the physical and psychological confinements of hierarchy result in a ‘doubling’ of the self. This hostile confinement is physical,…show more content…
Dostoevsky’s ‘anthropological’ study of these subjugated men holds greater significance. The Double reads as a ‘history of the unknown’, a voice of the subaltern; a true product of a repressed Petersburg citizen. A traditional expression of the harshness of poverty in Petersburg (as seen in Poor Folk’s epistolary form) holds less significance of impetus. The surreality/gothic inherent to Golyadkin imply his deep, profound confinement. Dostoevsky’s gothic technique comments on the grotesque results of repeated societal restriction on the psyche in a social
Open Document