Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 603
The best quotes in Dostoevsky's short novel The Double relate to the psychological decline of the main character, Mr. Golyadkin. In the second chapter, he tells his doctor,
'I have enemies, Krestyan Ivanovitch, I have enemies; I have malignant enemies who have sworn to ruin me . . .” Mr Golyadkin answered in a frightened whisper.
His doctor prescribes him
a change of habits. . . . Entertainment, for instance, and, well, friends — you should visit your acquaintances, and not be hostile to the bottle; and likewise keep cheerful company.
Golyadkin takes him at his word by gatecrashing his boss's party. At this point, though he is paranoid, his anger is directed toward other people and their reactions to him. He seems blissfully unaware of the problems he is so obviously creating.
On the way he jostled against a councillor and trod on his foot, and incidentally stepped on a very venerable old lady’s dress and tore it a little, pushed against a servant with a tray and then ran against somebody else, and, not noticing all this, passing further and further forward, he suddenly found himself facing Klara Olsufyevna.
It is not really until after he meets his double that he becomes self-conscious and timid.
The door from the next room suddenly opened with a timid, quiet creak, as if thus announcing the entrance of a very insignificant person . . .
Golyadkin meets his double in a snowstorm just after he is thrown out of his boss's party. He immediately notices that the man is wearing the same clothes, but he doesn't notice that they look exactly the same until he finds him waiting for him at his lodgings.
His hair stood on end, and he almost fell down with horror. And, indeed, there was good reason. He recognised his nocturnal visitor. The nocturnal visitor was no other than himself — Mr. Golyadkin himself, another Mr. Golyadkin, but absolutely the same as himself — in fact, what is called a double in every respect. . . .
Golyadkin becomes increasingly delusional as his double takes over his life.
And all these precisely similar Golyadkins set to running after one another as soon as they appeared, and stretched in a long chain like a file of geese, hobbling after the real Mr. Golyadkin, so there was nowhere to escape from these duplicates — so that Mr. Golyadkin, who was in every way deserving of compassion, was breathless with terror; so that at last a terrible multitude of duplicates had sprung into being; so that the whole town was obstructed at last by duplicate Golyadkins, and the police officer, seeing such a breach of decorum, was obliged to seize all these duplicates by the collar and to put them into the watch-house, which happened to be beside him . . .
By the end, he feels out of control.
After the first shock of horror, the blood rushed to Mr. Golyadkin’s head. Moaning and gnashing his teeth, he clutched his burning head, sank back on his block of wood and relapsed into brooding. . . . But he could form no coherent thought. Figures kept flitting through his brain, incidents came back to his memory, now vaguely, now very distinctly, the tunes of some foolish songs kept ringing in his ears. . . . He was in great distress, unnatural distress!
The story finishes with his doctor taking him to an insane asylum:
“You get free quarters, wood, with light, and service, the which you deserve not,” Krestyan Ivanovitch’s answer rang out, stern and terrible as a judge’s sentence.
Our hero shrieked and clutched his head in his hands. Alas! For a long while he had been haunted by a presentiment of this.