Nezhdanov (nehzh-DAH-nof), a young socialist who idealistically believes in revolution as the panacea for all of Russia’s ills. Born illegitimate to a wealthy aristocrat, Nezhdanov (literally, “the unexpected”) received a university education, specializing in the arts. This training frustrates him because, although a basic appreciation of music and poetry has been instilled in him, he indignantly denies that aesthetics have any social value. Frustration is the key to his character. More than once, he compares himself to Hamlet, the idealist challenged to act in a practical situation. While tutoring in the home of Sipyagin, he falls in love with Marianna, who elopes with him and agrees to work for the cause of the party. Nezhdanov cannot devote himself wholeheartedly to social revolution and consequently considers himself a failure unworthy of Marianna’s love. In desperation, he takes his own life, leaving Marianna to Solomin, his friend and compatriot. In Nezhdanov, the author has depicted the dilemma of a sensitive soul, basically opposed to ugliness and brutality, caught up in a social movement that demands the violent overthrow of the aristocracy.
Marianna (mah-rih-AHN-nuh), Sipyagin’s niece, living in his household. Although she is of the aristocracy, her parents died in shame and poverty; her father, a general, had been detected in a huge theft from the government funds. Marianna, longing for freedom, loathes the life of a dependent in the Sipyagin family and is incensed by Valentina’s remarks concerning...
(The entire section is 684 words.)