“Note From The Underground”
Spite and Isolation
A common theme through out the book Notes From The Under Ground is the idea of isolation. The under ground man is a lonely, self-isolated, socially awkward character who lives out the majority of his days from the inside of his mind. The underground man’s isolation seems to stem from an acute and paralyzing self-awareness. The narrator seems to expect life to play out like the stories in his books, but unfortunately life is far more complicated then what literature entails. As a result, the underground man is left alone, with no friends to console.
The underground man’s isolation has left him spiteful, over conscious, and self-loathing. The narrator blames this on his intelligence and acute consciousness, traits he claims renders him unable to take action. He resents those who take control of their lives and carry out their goals. He believes that society’s lack of intelligence is what gives people the ability to act and therefore succeed. However, despite his independent nature, deep down, the underground man does long for companionship.
For example, during part two of the novel, the narrator learns about a farewell gathering for one of his classmates, Zverkov. He invites himself to the party, even though the others discourage him from attending. At the dinner, he is ignored and treated poorly. But despite his peers’ rude behavior, he still insists upon joining them after the party adjourns to a brothel. The underground man desperately wants to feel included. It is here that the underground man meets a prostitute, named Liza, who, despite his distant disposition, falls in love with. However, the narrator’s self destructive behavior destroys every chance he has at happiness. The underground man reaches out to Liza, assisting that she comes to him if she ever finds herself in trouble. He immediately regrets this gesture of kindness in fear that Liza will discover that he is not the powerful man he lead her to believe, but rather a sad, lonely man who lives in poverty. After weeks of fantasizing about Liza, imagining the two of them marrying, he is greeted by her presence. But instead of being excited, he becomes angry. He belittles her for coming to him and for letting him and others have power over her. When she finally leaves, he presses money into her hand as an insult.
Immediately regretting his behavior, the underground man spends the next fifteen years of his life in search of Liza, hoping to find the one person who has ever showed him true kindness. At the end of the story, the underground man describes his character as the antihero, possessing no goodness or likable traits. The underground man has self-destructive tendencies, preventing him from ever experiencing true happiness. He states that he does not have "what it takes to live a real life” and returns to his miserable and alienated underground existence away from the companionship is longs for.