The underground man and bazarov both shroud their

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The underground man and Bazarov both shroud their romantic thoughts with philosophical convictions because they fear a system not founded upon absolute truths. Nihilism and anti-Platonism both revolve around the concept of rejecting an
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establishment that seems corrosive to society’s progression. In doing so, these ideologies rely on the actual situation of the world by focusing on the practical matters and the false notion of knowledge equals virtue. Romanticism, or the reaction against rationalism, is based upon emotion, subjectivity, and the delving into the self for enrichment. This inability to subscribe form to a way in which the world must be interpreted, as it often appears accordingly soul by soul, is unsettling for both protagonists. Turgenev writes that Bazarov would “pour quiet scorn on everything which he savoured of the ‘romantic’: but when he was alone he recognized with indignation a romantic strain in himself. Then he would go off into the forest” (170). As Bazarov retreats into nature to heal his soul, when nature is no longer a workshop, the statement resounds of his conversation with Odintsov when he says, “people are like trees in a forest: no botanist would dream of studying each individual birch tree” (160) for studying one gives the recipe for all. These two conflicting scenes represent how Bazarov wishes to portray himself to the rest of the world, how he wishes to establish himself, and how his soul actually functions. In death, Bazarov realizes he is in fact only an unaffecting atom in the greater picture of Russia and again invokes the forest, thus reinstating the impact of the individual on a locally emotional scale. Similarly the underground man calls Liza a “slave… selling her soul into slavery” (96), yet he too is enslaved as he wraps himself in this system of individuality, which promotes a detestable life. However, by attacking Liza, the underground man too shields himself from his true emotions as he puts on a public veil. In loving their feminine counterparts, the individual and the nihilist would be embracing and promoting an element that does not fall in line with their philosophies. Bazarov, although inclined towards viewing the world with an empirical eye rather than aesthetic one, relinquishes
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his fear of intimacy as he comes to terms with his own futility and the one only truth he did in fact know; love. In turn, Bazarov and the underground man seek to actively suppress their romanticisms because to add another unique tree to the forest, or to enslave oneself to another, would be an unacceptable submission.
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  • Fall '10
  • Gamer
  • underground man, Bazarov

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