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Analysis

Literary Devices in Notes from the Underground

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

So…what exactly is the Crystal Palace? In 1851, The Great Exhibition was held in London. It was basically like a World's Fair, where everyone got together to show how cool and modern things w...

Setting

Remember all that cool intellectual history stuff we talked about in the "Overview" of Notes from the Underground? That was Dostoevsky's time/place context for writing this work, but it's also the...

Narrator Point of View

The narrative voice in Notes from the Underground is, of course, that of the Underground Man. And in fact, much of the text is just his voice, talking to us.Since you could imagine this getting a b...

Genre

Notes from the Underground is one of the earlier examples of realist literature. Rather than focusing on, well, "the beautiful and sublime," Dostoevsky paints a gritty portrait of a shabby man in a...

Tone

First of all, we're going to talk about the tone of Notes from the Underground – not the tone of the Underground Man himself. The difference is that we're looking at the work as a whole and a...

Writing Style

We'll start at the beginning of our list above. How is Notes manipulative? Look at the narrative technique in Part I, Chapter Seven. The Underground Man tells us that there is one big advantage ...

What's Up With the Title?

First off, what is the title, exactly? You may have seen it as Notes from the Underground, as we refer to it on Shmoop, or Notes from Underground, or even Letters from the Underworld (someone was f...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

(Epigraph for Part II)When from dark error's subjugationMy words of passionate exhortationHad wrenched thy fainting spirit free;And writhing prone in thine afflictionThou didst recall with maledict...

Plot Analysis

"An intelligent man cannot become anything seriously, and it is only the fool who becomes anything."This is where we start: the Underground Man isn't anything, and he can't ever become anything. Ta...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Rebirth

Almost all of Notes from the UndergroundThe shadow here is so many things…the Underground Man's isolation, his need for suffering, his enjoyment of suffering, his hyper-consciousness, the wal...

Three Act Plot Analysis

The three act plot analysis best applies only to Part II of Notes from the Underground, since this is when we have action instead of philosophizing. You can see the elements of the three-act struct...

Trivia

As you've probably heard by now, Dostoevsky wrote Notes from the Underground in part as a response to Nikolai Chernyshevsky's novel What Is to Be Done?. Of course, Nikolai wrote his novel in respon...

Steaminess Rating

While there is some sex with a prostitute, Dostoevsky keeps things pretty implicit or unsaid. He pulls a chapter break any time sex comes around. Also, the sex in notes is followed with morality le...

Allusions

Immanuel Kant, Observations on the Feeling of the Beautiful and Sublime (1.2.2)Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Confessions (1.3.2, 1.11.7)Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species (1.3.4)Nikolai Chernyshevsky,...
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