Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Dmitri Nikolaich Rudin

Dmitri Nikolaich Rudin (DMIH-tree nih-koh-LA-ihch REW-dihn), an impecunious former civil servant, roughly thirty-five years old, “tall, slightly round-shouldered, curly-haired, swarthy, with irregular, but expressive and intelligent features, and a liquid brilliance in his lively, dark blue eyes.” He is an enthusiastic intellectual and makes the rounds of various country estates, moving on when he ceases to entertain his hosts. He has progressive ideas and arouses sympathy in many of his hearers, but, given the social structure in the novel, he is very much a superfluous man. As the plot of the novel unfolds, he joins the group of characters at the country estate of Darya Mikhaylovna Lasunskaya and sparks their interest with his conversation. Darya Mikhaylovna’s daughter, Natalya, falls in love with Rudin and offers to run away with him, but he “submits” to the will of her mother and society, refusing to return her affections.

Darya Mikhaylovna Lasunskaya

Darya Mikhaylovna Lasunskaya (mih-KHAH-ih-lohv-nah lah-sewn-SKAH-yah), a wealthy widow, the mother of three children (including Natalya). Darya Mikhaylovna possessed good looks in her younger days but has lost most of her charms in her old age. Her wealth and impressive country estate, however, attract the local people...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Dmitri Rudin, after whom the novel is titled, is the central character of the novel. Turgenev, one of the most renowned novelists produced by Russia, was not above using an old technique to emphasize the importance of the main character. Rudin is the dynamic outsider who intrudes upon the closed society of the countryside and produces a stir; he dominates conversation, provokes commentary on his origins and opinions, and steals the heart of a beautiful, thoughtful young girl. In his wake not much has changed; only Natalia seems to have learned a valuable lesson about human nature. After Rudin’s departure, life returns to normal. A person such as Rudin leaves no permanent imprint upon people except memories, both positive and negative.

Daria and Natalia, on the other hand, are people of action. Daria is domineering, but she is also responsible for a large estate, rears her daughter without assistance, and acts immediately when the need arises. Her daughter has inherited this trait; when Natalia is enthralled by Rudin’s ideas, she wants to begin to put them into practice. For some reason Turgenev sprinkles his novels with such women, while the men in his novels tend to be ineffective or shallow.

Lezhniov is an exception to the typically weak male character in Turgenev’s fiction. He is almost an ideal character; he combines love of the land and hard work with respect for intellectual labor, seems to be an extremely stable person, and is an embodiment of the virtues of decency and honesty. His last visit with Rudin in the hotel symbolizes what Turgenev believed was the correct attitude toward Rudin: respect for his idealism and intellect, but criticism of his inability to do anything practical. While maintaining one’s ideals, Turgenev suggests, one must be prepared to accommodate the demands of reality.


(Great Characters in Literature)

Dessaix, Robert. Turgenev: The Quest for Faith, 1980.

Freeborn, Richard. Turgenev: The Novelist’s Novelist, 1960.

Matlaw, Ralph. “Turgenev’s Novels: Civic Responsibility and Literary Predilection,” in Harvard Slavic Studies. IV (1957), pp. 249-262.

Pritchett, V.S. The Gentle Barbarian: The Life and Work of Turgenev, 1977.

Ripp, Victor. Turgenev’s Russia: From “Notes of a Hunter” to “Fathers and Sons,” 1980.

Schapiro, Leonard. Turgenev: His Life and Times, 1979.