Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Like many Russian writers, Dostoevski wished to express his views on life in a form that would catch the attention of the general public and be an attractive means of furthering discussion of serious questions. Literature reached a much wider public than did theoretical journals of philosophy, and Dostoevski employed fiction in the hope that he would have an effect outside the academic community. In the process, he wrote works of literature that are considered masterpieces even by those who disagree with the author or do not even understand what point he was attempting to make. In this story, the author uses a dream to make his point, a device that he also used in other works. This particular dream recounts the biblical tale of the Fall in slightly different terms, a story that would be very familiar to the average Russian reader of the nineteenth century. By the use of this dream as parable, Dostoevski takes a very difficult point of Christian philosophy and simplifies it so that almost anyone can understand the point he is attempting to make.