Dostoevsky uses the term Underground Man to refer to a person whom people support and admire his ideas, but the same people, in turn, hate and deplore his actions. There are two contradictory reactions whereby the person, in this case, is admired at the beginning and ultimately rejected. The Underground Man is the first person narrator who believes that the two contradictory reactions define the duality of his own nature. An example of a contradictory situation is when the narrator gets annoyed for being insulted, but he does not do change his personality to get out of the position of being insulted.
By reading Part 1, the reader gets to know the Underground Man’s ideas which are composed of views and conclusions of a brilliant person. Despite the age of the reader or century, he/she cannot deny the fact that Part 1 depicts the narrator as an intelligent person. On the other hand, throughout Part 2 the reader is exposed to the spiteful and deplorable acts of the Underground Man on the basis of the nature of the relationship between him and the people around him.In Part 1, the Underground Man is admired by the people around him as he opposes the scientific rationalism. According to him, the implementation of the rationalism will destroy the man’s individuality.
People agree with the Underground Man that human freedom is the best thing in life such that each individual will choose his/her own way of life even if there are consequences rather than being controlled like a robot. He states that “you don’t need free will to determine that twice two is four. That’s not what I call free will.” He receives a lot of support from people around him because everyone knows what is good for him/her and it is only availed by the human freedom.From Part 1, it is clear that people support the Underground Man’s opposing ideas against the scientific rationalism due to the fact that science can only improve the living conditions but cannot change the basic desires of a man. Besides, the human personality is accomplished through both rational and irrational desires (Villadsen & Dostoyevsky 100).
Apart from the scientific rationalism, the Underground Man is also against the assumptions that were brought up by the modern civilization such as scientific utopias and utilitarianism. Probably, most of the people who enjoy and concur in the Underground Man’s criticism are humanists who agree with every suggestion he makes although he advocates his propositions in a spiteful way.When it comes to Part 2, people appear to be disgusted by every move made by the Underground Man. At first, people considered him as an intellectual advocate whom people supported every action he undertook specifically in fighting against the scientific rationalism.
He represented the voices of the majority, and everyone seemed to be focused on the validity of the arguments. They never questioned about the personality of the Underground Man. However, it is only in Part 2 where people recognize the real character of the speaker which is warped and distorted. Those who adored him now hate and deplore his actions.
He is considered as a failure who has no meaning in his own society. In a statement, he says “I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man.”The Underground Man stated in Part 1 that he could not imagine dreaming of an unintended slight directed towards him because he would take it as an outrageous insult. He is depicted in Part 2 as an intelligent person with distorted personality who fears the reality and can only survive vicariously. He fears being mocked, despised, or disrespected by the people around him.
As a way of tackling the extreme fear of reality, he opts for complete control over the people he comes across with. For instance, the Underground Man is unable to establish a good relationship with Zverkov after failing to dominate him. The Underground Man wants to tyrannize others since he feels that he is more intelligent than those around him. His unkind, warped, and wicked personality is evident when he intentionally attempts to subjugate Liza. Ultimately he becomes isolated as he states, “I did not, of course, maintain friendly relations with my comrades and soon was at loggerheads with them, and in my youth and inexperience I even gave up bowing to them, as though I had cut off all relations.”Overall, it is clear that main character’s nature is wicked although people embraced his ideas in Part 1. The fact that the Underground Man has a twisted personality, people should not show him compassion, and his ideal place to stay is an underground hole.
There are instances of this attitude in Trevor Noah’s memoir. During Apartheid, it was a crime for black and white people to interact (Noah 57). Contrary to the crime, Noah’s parents were from different racial backgrounds whereby his father was a white Swiss while his mother was a black Xhosa. Noah’s light-skinned presence forced him to spend his childhood alone because he could not fit in a group of either black or white people.
Noah remembers childhood memories when he says “the only time I could be with my father was indoors”: “It was dangerous, as a light-skinned child, to be seen with his mother as well: “She would hold my hand or carry me, but if the police showed up she would have to drop me and pretend I wasn’t hers.” In this case, both Noah and the Underground Man do not fit in their own societies due to a light-skin presence and twisted personality respectively. Another example of similar instances is the fact that both Noah’s mother and the Underground Man were fearless and rebellious. Noah’s mother went against the rule that restricted the mixing of black and white people by being in a relationship with a white Swiss man. On the other hand, the Underground Man rebelled against the scientific rationalism by advocating for human freedom.