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Last Updated on February 1, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1133

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin Sr.

Although Golyadkin is initially referred to by his surname, he is ultimately referred to as Golyadkin Sr., reflecting his seniority as the original Golyadkin rather than the double. He works as a low-level clerk in the Russian bureaucracy, holding the title “titular counselor.” Despite his limited rank and humble income, Golyadkin Sr. has a servant and significant savings. However, his functional career belies a less-than-functional mind; the stress of his job, the anxiety of social interactions, and the gossip spreading about his character have driven Golyadkin to a breaking point. In the beginning, Golyadkin Sr. seems a bit odd: he dresses strangely, stutters often, and refers to people by their full names several times in a sentence. 

As time goes on, Golyadkin grows more and more mentally unstable. He acts irrationally in a misguided attempt to improve his social standing and accidentally commits faux pas after faux pas, none of which endear him to his peers and superiors. After an egregious social misstep, he begins to hallucinate, imagining that there exists a double of himself who plagues his every step and is responsible for his failing career. This double acts as a coping mechanism upon which he relies to shield himself from his failings and instead place blame on an external force. His reliance on this dysfunctional coping mechanism ultimately leads him to break with reality and wind up in an insane asylum. 

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin Jr. 

Initially, Golyadkin Jr. is a pitiable figure; he lived a destitute, desperate life, and he is interested only in getting back on his feet. He bows his head when he speaks and defers to the authority of others, including Golyadkin Sr. The double’s humble demeanor, however, proves to be little more than a short-lived farce, which he used to lull Golyadkin Sr. into a sense of false security by playing to his arrogant desire to feel powerful and in control. Unlike his namesake, Golyadkin Jr. is a masterful conversationalist; he is charismatic, likable, and eloquent, so he proves far superior to Golyadkin Sr. in the social realm. Because Golyadkin Jr. is so successful in the office, he curries the favor of those in charge and rapidly turns them against Golyadkin Sr. 

The double is two-faced, which drives Golyadkin Sr. crazy; he sees Golyadkin Jr. for who he really is—a manipulative and vindictive devil desperate for power and influence—but he seems to be the only one. Although Golyadkin Jr. seems painfully real to Golyadkin Sr., the double’s supernatural elements draw the nature of his existence into question. While he may be a real person, it is more likely that Golyadkin Jr. is simply a hallucination conjured by the anxiety-ridden mind of his namesake, whom Golyadkin Sr. uses as a scapegoat for his failings. 


Petrushka is Golyadkin Sr.’s manservant. He is responsible for preparing Golyadkin’s food and clothing, waking him for work in the morning, and maintaining the household. Although he does his duties, he is a sullen and unhappy man who turns to alcohol to avoid the daily humiliations of his life. He dislikes his master and laughs at his anxieties and idiosyncrasies, neither of which endear him to the man. Golyadkin characterizes him as a poor worker and disrespectful layabout but ultimately misses Petrushka’s presence when he leaves for another job with a more reputable master.

Christian Ivanovich Rutenspitz

  According to the signage on his office door, Christian Ivanovich Rutenspitz is a doctor, surgeon, and psychiatrist. He is an older man with well-established routines and does not take kindly to disruptions. While he engages in talk therapy,...

(This entire section contains 1133 words.)

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he seems more inclined to prescribe his patients a variety of medications to solve their problems. Early on in the novel, Christian Ivanovich seems to be a stern but concerned doctor who wishes to help Golyadkin Sr. improve his strained mental health. By the end, Golyadkin Sr.’s delusions have been dramatically exacerbated, and he sees Christian Ivanovich as a devil who drags him to hell, rather than the kind doctor who wished to see him well. 

Andrey Phillippovich

Golyadkin’s direct supervisor and the head of the department, Andrey Phillipovich is a charismatic man who, unlike Golyadkin, excels in social situations. He is an excellent speaker both at work and at social events; at the ball thrown for Clara’s birthday, his speech brings tears to the eyes of those listening. Andrey Phillipovich is responsible for hiring Golyadkin Jr. and falls for the double’s sob story and sociable mask. Like many in the office, he fails to see the double’s villainous side and rejects the awkward Golyadkin Sr. in favor of his new, more social replacement. Andrey Phillipovich is present for many of Golyadkin Sr.’s faux pas, even escorting him out of Clara’s ball, so his view of the original Golyadkin is tainted with the memory of his desperation and anxious confusion. Ultimately, it is at Andrey Phillipovich’s recommendation that Golyadkin Sr. is fired. 

Olsufi Ivanovich 

Often referred to as “His Excellency,” Olsufi Ivanovich is an older gentleman who is a high-ranking member of the department in which Golyadkin works. He was once Golyadkin’s professional benefactor, but after Golyadkin awkwardly informed him of his interest in his daughter, Clara, Olsufi Ivanovich pulled away from the socially-incompetent younger man and banned him from his home. Golyadkin briefly alludes to these events but seems to forget that he is responsible for his ostracization; instead, he feels that old age has rendered Olsufi Ivanovich petty and cold-hearted. In reality, the older man is a doting father who spends his considerable wealth ensuring the health, happiness, and optimal marriage of his daughter, Clara, over whom he feels immensely protective. 

Clara Olsufyevna

Clara Olsufyevna is a young woman with whom Golyadkin Sr. is enamored. He finds her enchanting in both appearance and personality, admiring her for her beauty, musical accomplishment, and sweet demeanor. She is the only daughter of Olsufi Ivanovich, and he dotes on her, spending a fortune to ensure her happiness. Later in the novel, Golyadkin receives a letter from her, which details her unhappiness with her suitors and asks him to rescue her from her father; however, given the nature of Golyadkin’s delusions and the distaste she seems to have for him, it is unlikely that she penned the letter. 

Anton Antonovich Setochkin

A head of another subsection in the department and a peer of Andrey Phillipovich, Anton Antonovich is an older man with a penchant for gossip, a sharp wit, and easygoing humor. He is Clara Olsufyevna’s godfather and an old friend of Olsufi Ivanovich; as such, he quickly grows cold to Golyadkin Sr. and severs ties with him after the gossip about the younger man’s exploits spreads.  




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