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Free Study Guide for Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky
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  1. Describe the "underground" existence of the narrator.

  2. List the three worst things that the narrator does during the book and explain why you think that they are the worst.

  3. What was living in St. Petersburg like during the book? Give specific examples.

  4. Do you think the narrator is honest? Support your answer with details.

  5. Who/what is the antagonist of the unnamed narrator, who is the central character of the book?

  6. Does the story end in comedy or tragedy? Why?

  7. Describe Liza, giving details from the book to support your description.

  8. Compare and contrast the narrator and Liza.

  9. Part I of the book is general and deals with ideas. Part II is general and deal with feelings. How do the two parts work together? Explain if you think it is an effective structure.

  10. What is the major theme of the book and how is it developed?

  11. Do you find anything likable about the underground man? Explain your answer.


The study of literature is not like the study of math or science, or even history. While those disciplines are based largely upon fact, the study of literature is based upon interpretation and analysis. There are no clear-cut answers in literature, outside of the factual information about an author's life and the basic information about setting and characterization in a piece of literature. The rest is a highly subjective reading of what an author has written; each person brings a different set of values and a different background to the reading. As a result, no two people see the piece of literature in exactly the same light, and few critics agree on everything about a book or an author.

In this set of booknotes for a well-known piece of literature, we have tried to give an objective literary analysis based upon the information actually found in the novel, book, or play. In the end, however, it is an individual interpretation, but one that we feel can be readily supported by the information that is presented in the guide. In your course of literature study, you or your professor/teacher may come up with a different interpretation of the mood or the theme or the conflict. Your interpretation, if it can be logically supported with information contained within the piece of literature, is just as correct as ours. So is the interpretation of your teacher or professor.

Literature is simply not a black or white situation; instead, there are many gray areas that are open to varying analyses. Your task is to come up with your own analysis that you can logically defend. Hopefully, this study guide will help you to accomplish that goal.

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Chapter Summary for Notes From Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky


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