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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 323

The main character in The Double is the titular councillor Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, Sr. Golyadkin has a servant called Peruska, a boss where he works at the government office called Andrei Filipovich and a doctor called Krestyan Ivanovich Rutenspitz.

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At the beginning of the story Golyadkin seems a strange, but relatively confident and well off man. He has a servant, owns his own flat and travels by carriage. When he counts his money Golyadkin states

“Seven hundred and fifty roubles in notes,” he concluded at last, in a half-whisper. “Seven hundred and fifty roubles, a noteworthy sum! It’s an agreeable sum,” he went on, in a voice weak and trembling with gratification, as he pinched the roll with his fingers and smiled significantly; “it’s a very agreeable sum! A sum agreeable to any one! I should like to see the man to whom that would be a trivial sum!

The first sign that he maybe mentally unstable is when he visits his doctor Krestyan Ivanovich Rutenspitz and proclaims that he has "malignant enemies who have sworn to ruin me."

Following his doctor's advice to be more sociable, Golyadkin goes to his boss's daughter's party where he meets the two other most important characters in the story, Klara Olsufyevna and Golyadkin Jr. Klara Olsufyevna is Golyadkin's love interest and it is his obsession with her that, at the end of the story, leads to his capture. Golyadkin Jr. is Golyadkin's double.

Golyadkin gets on with his double until he starts "noticing in his enemy’s face something positively Bacchanalian." More confident and assertive than Golyadkin, his double takes over Golyadkin's position in the office and takes over his life. The more Golyadkin complains the worse it gets for him. He loses his job and eventually loses his mind.

Our hero shrieked and clutched his head in his hands. Alas! For a long while he had been haunted by a presentiment of this.

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 541

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, Sr.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, Sr. (YAH-kov peh-TROH-vihch gol-YAD-kihn), the assistant to the chief clerk in a government office in St. Petersburg. From the outset, Yakov Petrovich reveals himself to be an insecure and mentally unstable individual who longs to be a success in his personal and professional life but who fails in both. After he makes a fool of himself as an uninvited guest at the birthday party of the woman he desires, Klara Olsufievna, he rushes into the street in a state of distress. There he repeatedly encounters a mysterious individual who, he realizes to his dismay, is his identical physical double. After quelling his anxiety about the appearance of this double, Yakov Petrovich allows the man to spend the night in his apartment. The next day, however, he begins to perceive that the double, labeled by the narrator as Golyadkin, Jr., has begun to worm his way into Yakov Petrovich’s office and threatens to take over Yakov Petrovich’s place there. Increasingly horrified at the skill of Golyadkin, Jr., in currying favor with Yakov Petrovich’s superiors and at the man’s continued disdain for Yakov Petrovich’s own attempts to make friends with him, Yakov Petrovich launches into a frantic, confused campaign of spying and letter writing to try to protect his own position and to uncover the motives of those he believes are plotting against him. After he conceives of a wild scheme to aid Klara Olsufievna in escaping from her family, he is taken into custody and whisked off to a mental asylum.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, Jr.

Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, Jr., the cunning and treacherous double of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, Sr. A gregarious figure who knows how to combine poses of concerned sincerity with genial good humor, he displays an unerring...

(The entire section contains 1479 words.)

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Critical Essays