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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 177

The themes of the The Double by Dostoevsky include exploration of one's identity as well as one's position within the state. The protagonist, Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, works as a clerk in a government office in St. Petersburg. He is unfulfilled in his career as well as in his personal life, and, when he fails to seduce one Klara Olsufyevna, he reaches a personal low point.

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Walking home after this event, he sees a shadowy man who follows him, and, eventually, he learns that he resembles Golyadkin. This individual soon procures a job in his office and surpasses Golyadkin both professionally and socially. At the end of the novel, Golyadkin is taken to a mental hospital. This ending calls into question the reliability of the narrator's appraisal of his external surroundings. Perhaps he did indeed have a doppelgänger, or he might have imagined an individual to be his doppelgänger, or he might have imagined this individual altogether. The bureaucratic nature of the Russian state, the novel suggests, makes it difficult to negotiate one's relationship within it.

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