Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

I should certainly have never been able to do anything from being magnanimous – neither to forgive, for my assailant would perhaps have slapped me from the laws of nature, and one cannot forgive the laws of nature; nor to forget, for even if it were owing to the laws of nature, it is insulting all the same. (1.2.4)

It's interesting that the Underground Man "cannot forgive" the laws of nature; bashing his head against the stone wall, then, would seem to be symbolic of a thwarted attempt at revenge.

Quote #2

Finally, even if I had wanted to be anything but magnanimous, had desired on the contrary to revenge myself on my assailant, I could not have revenged myself on any one for anything because I should certainly never have made up my mind to do anything, even if I had been able to. (1.2.4)

How can we reconcile this thought with the Underground Man's attempts at revenge in the second half of Notes?

Quote #3

Now let us look at this mouse in action. Let us suppose, for instance, that it feels insulted, too (and it almost always does feel insulted), and wants to revenge itself, too. […] through his innate stupidity the [man] looks upon his revenge as justice pure and simple; while […] the mouse does not believe in the justice of it. To come at last to the deed itself, to the very act of revenge. […] the luckless mouse succeeds in creating […] doubts and questions, […] there inevitably works up around it a sort of fatal brew, a stinking mess, made up of its doubts, emotions […]. Of course the only thing left for it is to dismiss all that with a wave of its paw, and […] creep ignominiously into its mouse-hole. (1.3.2)

The mouse's inability to exact revenge is an illustration of the Underground Man's inability to act: both are the result of hyper-consciousness.

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