Date of Award

Summer 2022

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Alexander Ogden

Abstract

Situated in the context of Bakhtin’s understanding of Dostoevsky’s narrative structure, the goal of this thesis aims to analyze the ways in which Dostoevsky’s characters negotiate their identities through a dialogic process of truth-telling as it appears in two forms: an explicit expression of truth that is consciously made by a novel’s characters in earnest dialogue, and an unspoken, even unconscious expression of truth that is not openly expressed, but can be inferred from the seemingly illogical reactions and behaviors of characters in the novel. The latter form is established in terms of Freud’s discussion of the unconscious and unconscious behavior, while the former is established in terms of Foucault’s work on veridiction and its relation to the subject. The purpose of this exercise is to demonstrate that both manifestations of truth intertwine to form a character’s coherent identity through a process of dialogic engagement. Constructing a sort of compound lens out of the Foucauldian and Freudian approaches to truth allows for an understanding of these novels in this dialogic structure. There are several situations and character types that are similar between two of Dostoevsky’s novels, Crime and Punishment and The Idiot, and a comparative analysis of these features through the framework presented can be used to produce a reading that demonstrates the complexity of the dialogic nature of Dostoevsky’s characters by illuminating the differences between the characters in these novels, many of whom are similar in behavior, motivations, contexts, etc., as well as the functions of interference with that dialogic process.

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