November 23 , 2010

Gentle Spirit


Fyodor Dostoevsky's short story "A Gentle Creature" explores the peculiar and rather abusive relationship between a pawnbroker and his wife. The wife is supposedly a gentle creature, meek and submissive, whereas the pawnbroker is strict and dominating, controlling. His odd, confusing, and sometimes harsh behavior towards his wife serves to drive her into such a state that she commits suicide. Years of his steadfast need to completely conquer her finally render her in such an emotional paralysis that she sees only one route of escape. Yet, in his existential nature, the pawnbroker does not even realize this fact.

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Most significant of the Russian novelist's early stories (1846) offers a straight-faced treatment of a hallucinatory theme. Golyadkin senior is a powerless target of persecution by Golyadkin junior, his double in almost every respect. Familiar Dostoyevskan themes of helplessness, victimization, scandal — beautifully handled in this small…

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