In Notes from Underground, what are the aspects, if any, of the Underground Man that we identify with as readers? Why?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that we can identify with the unnamed narrator in Notes from Underground because he represents some of our worst habits as human beings.

Very few of us would like to say that we can identify with the unnamed narrator. He represents some of the very worst qualities. When we think about who we are, most of us would like to identify with someone more redemptive.  However, in many of our moments, we probably share some of the unnamed narrator's qualities.

One way in which we can identify with the unnamed narrator is in his self- indulgence. The Underground Man is extremely self- absorbed.  He says as much when he suggests, "Now then, what does a decent man like to talk about most?  Himself, of course.  So I'll talk about myself."  The Underground Man loves talking about himself.  In the modern setting, you could almost imagine him having his own blog or his own twitter feed where he externalizes his own experience for an audience of other people.  

When the Underground Man speaks of the physical pain in his liver, it is reflective of how we have a tendency to dwell on our own condition.  His insistence on wanting his liver  "to hurt even more" shows a predisposition to view pain in narrow terms.  Our pain is our own and rather than seek to alleviate it, human beings might accentuate it because it highlights our own individuality.  We often believe that "no one else understands my pain," amplified with the idea that "Man only likes to count his troubles; he doesn't calculate his happiness."   The ability to view our lives in self- interested terms is a way how we can identify with the unnamed narrator. 

dwgreco | Student

One may wonder, are there any habits that people have had in the past that have been considered by society as "bad" habits that later generations of society considered to be "good" habits?

if so, (X) what were those habits that went from being considered bad to be considered good, and (Y) what would cause society to change its view of such habits?

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Notes From Underground

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