Notes from Underground

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A prostitute whom the underground man sleeps with after following Zverkov to a brothel. The underground man is disgusted with having had loveless sex with her and talks to her about her pathetic situation as a prostitute. He brings her to tears, but then gives her his address, and she visits him soon after, looking for his help in escaping the brothel. He refuses, but then breaks down and cries. She embraces the underground man as he cries, but he then tries to give her money and she leaves, refusing his money.

Liza Quotes in Notes from Underground

The Notes from Underground quotes below are all either spoken by Liza or refer to Liza. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of Notes from Underground published in 2000.
Part 2, Chapter 6 Quotes

It’s a different thing altogether; even though I degrade and defile myself, I’m still no one’s slave; if I want to leave, I just get up and go. I shake it all off and I’m a different man. But you must realize right from the start that you’re a slave. Yes, a slave!

Related Characters: The Underground Man (speaker), Liza
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:

The Underground Man has had sex with Liza, a prostitute in the brothel, and at two in the morning wakes up next to her, feeling nauseated. They discuss her life, and the Underground has encouraged her to leave the brothel and get married. When Liza comments that not all married women are happy, the Underground Man responds by telling her that she is "a slave," and at least he himself is not a slave. This passage shows the Underground Man's senseless and seemingly boundless cruelty. There is no obvious reason why he torments Liza, who is clearly vulnerable and in an inferior social position to him, and yet he does it anyway.

Furthermore, his cruel words to Liza contradict what he has claimed earlier in the narrative, which is that he is "a coward and a slave." This contradiction suggests that the Underground Man deliberately seeks out people who are weaker to him in order to increase his sense of his own superiority. Meanwhile, Liza's suggestion that she is not necessarily less free than a married woman is apt; under many circumstances, prostitutes did indeed have more freedom than married women. By calling Liza a slave just as he earlier called himself one, however, the Underground Man emphasizes that everyone is constrained by societal expectations, material conditions, and their own mind, meaning no one is truly free. 

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Part 2, Chapter 7 Quotes

For a while I felt that I’d turned her soul inside out and had broken her heart; the more I became convinced of this, the more I strived to reach my goal as quickly and forcefully as possible. It was the sport that attracted me; but it wasn’t only the sport. . . . I knew that I was speaking clumsily, artificially, even bookishly; in short, I didn’t know how to speak except “like a book.”

Related Characters: Liza
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

The Underground Man has continued to taunt Liza by describing how awful her life will be; he tells her that she will become old and ugly, that she will be beaten and humiliated, and that she will grow sick and die in the brothel, and that everyone will forget her once she's dead.

Having said all this, he announces that he has "broken her heart," and describes the process of having done so as "sport" and speaking "like a book." On one level this passage reveals the alarming extent of the Underground Man's cruelty; on the other hand, it suggests that his actions are somewhat beyond his control. His obsession with literature has left him unable to communicate normally or to care about Liza's feelings.

Part 2, Chapter 8 Quotes

I felt particularly reassured and relaxed after nine o’clock in the evening and even began to daydream sweetly at times. For instance: “I save Liza, precisely because she’s come to me, and I talk to her. . . . I develop her mind, educate her. At last I notice that she loves me, loves me passionately. . . “Liza,” I say, “do you really think I haven’t noticed your love? I’ve seen everything. I guessed but dared not be first to make a claim on your heart because I had such influence over you, and because I was afraid you might deliberately force yourself to respond to my love out of gratitude. . . No, I didn’t want that because it would be . . . despotism. . . . It would be indelicate (well, in short, here I launched on some European, George Sandian, inexplicably lofty subtleties. . .) . . . In short, it became crude even to me, and I ended by sticking my tongue out at myself.

Related Characters: The Underground Man (speaker), Liza
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:

The Underground Man has spent days in fear that Liza will come to visit him, and regrets giving her his address. However, after a few days pass he relaxes and begins to fantasize about behaving in a kind, loving manner to Liza. In this dream, the Underground Man adopts a different tone from the one he uses while addressing the reader; he speaks to Liza in a gracious, magnanimous manner, telling her that he noticed her love but that he was wary of having too much power over her. This is a stark contrast to the Underground Man's earlier behavior, as well as his opinions on interpersonal relationships. While he previously confessed to being a despot, in this passage he rejects despotism, and instead of taunting Liza wishes to "save her." 

Note that these fantasies emerge only after the Underground Man has convinced himself that Liza will not see him in real life. This highlights the disconnect between the Underground Man's delusions about people (including himself) and the way in which people (and the Underground Man himself) actually behave. Indeed, the Underground Man was highly disturbed by the notion that Liza might actually come to his house, highlighting the fact that he doesn't want real people to shatter his delusions. This explains why the Underground Man is so obsessed with literature––it provides material for his fantasies (note the mention in this passage of the writer George Sand) while not threatening to destroy those fantasies in the way that real life inevitably does.

Part 2, Chapter 9 Quotes

But, do you know what I really want now? For you to get lost, that’s what! I need some peace. Why, I’d sell the whole world for a kopeck if people would only stop bothering me.

Related Characters: The Underground Man (speaker), Liza
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

Liza has come to the Underground Man's house, and the Underground Man has shouted at Apollon before bursting into tears in front of Liza. He first feels ashamed in front of Liza and then pities her, before growing cruel again, yelling at her to leave him alone. While this passage hardly contains a sympathetic portrayal of the Underground Man, the reader might well still be drawn to feel sorry for him. His wild mood swings and unpredictable treatment of the other characters seem to stem from a powerful sense of anguish and other emotional forces beyond his control. The Underground Man's statement about "selling the whole world for a kopeck" for some peace may be comically melodramatic, but it nonetheless reveals the Underground Man's deep torment.

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Liza Character Timeline in Notes from Underground

The timeline below shows where the character Liza appears in Notes from Underground. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 6
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
...absurd and revolting. He asks her what her name is, and she says it is Liza. He asks about her family and where she was from. She tells him that she... (full context)
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The underground man tells Liza about how earlier in the day he saw people carrying a coffin out of a... (full context)
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The underground man tells Liza that she will grow older, “fade,” and eventually end up like this deceased woman. Liza... (full context)
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The underground man says that it is “a disgrace” how he and Liza just slept together, and she agrees. He asks her why she came to the brothel.... (full context)
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...children are sold off are unfortunate, but that such unhappiness is the result of poverty. Liza suggests that there is unhappiness among wealthy people, as well. The underground man agrees but... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 7
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Encouraging Liza to realize her sad situation as a prostitute, the underground man asks her, “Do you... (full context)
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The underground man continues to emphasize the sadness of Liza’s life, saying that none of her lovers respect her, and telling her that she will... (full context)
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The underground man says that perhaps Liza will grow sick in the brothel, and no one will care for her. Everyone will... (full context)
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The underground man stops talking to Liza and says he felt like he had “turned her soul inside out and had broken... (full context)
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Before the underground man leaves, Liza shows him a love letter to her from a medical student she had met at... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
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The underground man worries that Liza might pay him a visit and regrets giving her his address. He thinks that he... (full context)
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The next day, the underground man is still thinking about Liza. He is angry at her “damned romanticism” that allowed him to persuade her so easily,... (full context)
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Several days pass, though, without Liza coming to visit him. The underground man imagines himself saving Liza, Liza declaring her love... (full context)
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The underground man describes his servant Apollon, whose rudeness distracts him from thinking about Liza. He talks of the mutual hatred between them and describes Apollon’s arrogance. Apollon has a... (full context)
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...police. Furious, the underground man tells him to go to the police. Just then, though, Liza arrives, looking for the underground man, who then tells Apollon to leave them alone together. (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
The underground man feels ashamed in front of Liza. He tells her not to assume anything from the apparent poverty of his home, and... (full context)
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
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...will kill Apollon and refers to him as his executioner. He bursts into tears, shocking Liza. He asks Liza if she despises him and then blames Liza for his behavior and... (full context)
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The underground man tells the reader that he felt pity for Liza, but that “something hideous immediately suppressed” his pity. After another long silence, he asks Liza... (full context)
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The underground man tells Liza to leave him alone, wishes the world would stop bothering him, and tells her that... (full context)
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The underground man tells Liza that he hates her, and then he tells the reader that something strange happened. He... (full context)
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Liza embraces the underground man, as the two both cry. He says that he can’t be... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 10
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About fifteen minutes later, the underground man has stopped crying and is watching Liza. He tells the reader that he could not return any love to Liza because for... (full context)
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Liza finally prepares to leave, and before she goes, the underground man slips some money into... (full context)
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The underground man sees that Liza has left the money he gave her on a table. He decides to run after... (full context)
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...before endured so much suffering and remorse” as that night. He says he never saw Liza again afterwards, and that he looks back on the event as “very unpleasant.” He thinks... (full context)