Fathers and Sons
Fathers and Sons
by Ivan Turgenev

Fathers and Sons Themes

Little Words, Big Ideas

Wisdom and Knowledge

One of Turgenev's main goals in Fathers and Sons is to accurately portray a massive cultural struggle in mid-nineteenth century Russia. As the novel moves on, it is clear that he is not aiming at a...

Society and Class

Turgenev's Fathers and Sons is set during a time of social unrest in Russia as a whole. The tsar is currently in the process of emancipating the serfs, which causes huge changes in Russia on the mo...

Philosophical Viewpoints

The main character of Fathers and Sons, Bazarov, does not want to occupy a philosophical position. Yet nihilism, whether he likes it or not, is a philosophy, a philosophy of destruction and renunci...

Pride

Nihilism is a philosophy of the proud. It isn't possible to renounce everything that has come before without a certain amount of confidence in one's own position. In Fathers and Sons, it quickly be...

Love

Bazarov, the main character of Fathers and Sons, does not believe in love. At the beginning, he makes fun of Arkady's uncle, Pavel Petrovich, for giving up after a failed love affair. Yet, as the n...

Man and the Natural World

When Virginia Woolf discussed Fathers and Sons, she noted how the human characters do not exist in isolation from the natural world. As she put it, their struggles take on all the more significance...

Suffering

Characters suffer quietly in Fathers and Sons, and their desire to hide their suffering often makes it that much more poignant. Pavel Petrovich feels incredibly alone after his failed love affair;...

Traditions and Customs

Fathers and Sons takes place at a time when a number of traditions were being called into question, if not overthrown outright. As the older generation struggles to come to terms with the new refor...

Admiration

The first incident to set off the drama of Fathers and Sons comes when Arkady introduces his new friend Bazarov, whom he admires greatly. Bazarov exerts a magnetic influence over other characters i...

Cunning and Cleverness

Whereas half of the characters in Fathers and Sons are overwhelmingly sincere (Nikolai and Arkady), others are defined, above all, by their wit (Bazarov, Madame Odintsov). At times, cleverness seem...

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