Notes from Underground
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Contributed by Jennefer Ruano
Chapter Summaries
Timeline
Chapter Summaries Table
Chapter Summary
Chapter 1

Dostoevsky immediately introduces us into the mind of his forty-year-old Underground Man, who describes himself as a "sick", "spiteful", "most unpl...

Chapter 2

In this chapter we learn that the UM’s illness is more than physical: he asserts that he has a psychological disease-he has too much consciousnes...

Chapter 3

The UM now uses an analogy to make his point.  He describes the normal, "stupid" person as an enraged bull rushing headlong into a wall at the sli...

Chapter 4

To advance his previous point that one can find pleasure in suffering, the UM uses the example of a toothache.  He explains that though there is a...

Chapter 5

Here we delve deeper into the mind of this deeply disturbed individual.  The UM, explaining what it was like to grow up, says that he could never ...

Chapter 6

Here, the Underground Man sidetracks himself, explaining how if he were a sluggard then he would truly respect himself.  He muses about how his li...

Chapter 7

The UM more clearly focuses his assault on Chernyshevsky’s "golden dreams" in this chapter, where he asserts that man is an inherently irrational...

Chapter 8

Next, he confronts the counter-argument that man’s "free will" is just an illusion-just a scientific formula of biological chemicals.  The UM sa...

Chapter 9

Next, the UM uses the analogy of the road to present his conclusion that man is afraid of completing his goal.  Man, he argues, loves the act of b...

Chapter 10

In this chapter, the Underground Man explains his refusal to accept the crystal palace, for the very reason that he wouldn’t be able to stick his...

Chapter 11

The UM begins this chapter by proclaiming: "The final result, gentlemen, is that it’s better to do nothing! Conscious inertia is better! And so, ...

Chapter 12

The Underground Man flashes back to when he was only twenty-four years old.  He explains that even at that early age (remember the first part was ...

Chapter 13

Dreaming is the only method the UM now finds to escape his life of "debauchery" and enter the world of the "beautiful and sublime." He says that he...

Chapter 14

Visiting Simonov at his apartment, the UM also encounters two of his other former classmates-Ferfichkin and Trudolyubov.  Apparently the men are d...

Chapter 15

Upon arrival, he finds that no one else has come yet.  He is shamed by being the first one, knowing he appears overeager.  When the others arrive...

Chapter 16

Entering the establishment, the Underground Man prepares to start another fight, which can only find resolution in a duel.  Inside he doesn’t re...

Chapter 17

Realizing that he’s been in a semi-conscious state (we can assume that this is after he and the woman have made love) for some time now, the UM c...

Chapter 18

Their conversation continues, and the UM remains very serious with her.  Indeed the whole tone of the Notes has shifted dramatically, becoming muc...

Chapter 19

Waking the next morning, the UM is surprised at himself for expressing himself to Liza the way he did.  He pays Simonov what he had borrowed from ...

Chapter 20

When Liza appears one evening unexpectedly, the Underground Man is horrified.  He explains: "I stood before her, crushed, humiliated, abominably a...

Chapter 21

The UM realizes that his idea of love is simply "tyrannizing and demonstrating [his] moral superiority." For this reason he tries to give her a fiv...

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