Notes from Underground

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Zverkov Character Analysis

One of the underground man’s former schoolmates, an attractive and popular man whom the underground man particularly dislikes for his bragging and stories of romantic exploits. Simonov, Ferfichkin, and Trudolyubov throw Zverkov a going-away party in part two, and the underground man invites himself to the party. There, he gets drunk and insults Zverkov. He later apologizes to Zverkov, but Zverkov tells him that he couldn’t possibly feel insulted by the underground man. The underground man follows Zverkov and his other former schoolmates to the brothel after the party, hoping to slap Zverkov in the face in order to regain some honor, but he doesn’t find Zverkov or the other party guests at the brothel.

Zverkov Quotes in Notes from Underground

The Notes from Underground quotes below are all either spoken by Zverkov or refer to Zverkov. 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 5 Quotes

Naturally, it’ll all be over after that. The department will banish me from the face of the earth. They’ll arrest me, try me, drive me out of the service, send me to prison; ship me off to Siberia for resettlement, Never mind! Fifteen years later when they let me out of jail, a beggar in rags, I’ll drag myself off to see him. I’ll find him in some provincial town. He’ll be married and happy. He’ll have a grown daughter. . . . I’ll say, “Look, you monster, look at my sunken cheeks and my rags. I’ve lost everything—career, happiness, art science, a beloved woman—all because of you. Here are the pistols. I came here to load my pistol and . . . and I forgive you.” Then I’ll fire into the air, and he’ll never hear another word from me again. . . .
I was actually about to cry, even though I knew for a fact at that very moment that all this was straight out of Silvio and Lermontov’s Masquerade.

Related Characters: The Underground Man (speaker), Zverkov
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

The Underground Man has embarrassed himself at Zverkov's party, drunkenly making a toast in which he insults Zverkov. Although the other guests react furiously, he nonetheless decides to follow them when they go to a brothel after the party, and begs Zverkov for forgiveness. The Underground Man journeys to the brothel separately from the other guests, and as he does so he fantasizes about violently avenging himself against Zverkov. His idea of being exiled to Siberia and returning to kill Zverkov in a duel is clearly melodramatic, with the narrative arc and detail of a fictional story––and indeed, at the end of the passage the Underground Man reveals he has derived this fantasy from actual works of fiction: Pushkin's short story "The Shot" and Lermontov's play "Masquerade." 

Once again, it is clear that the Underground Man's view of reality has been distorted by his indulgence in literature. The texts he mentions have evidently had such a great influence over him that he begins to confuse their plots with his own life. In one sense, this can be read as a subtle criticism of the literature the Underground Man describes. While these texts have given him grandiose ideas about honor, revenge, and dueling, these notions seem far from reality. The characters depicted in Notes From the Underground, rather than being courageous and noble, are instead narrow-minded, conformist people who behave in an unglamorous, unappealing manner. Although this makes for a less dramatic narrative, it is arguably closer to the truth of human nature.

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Zverkov Character Timeline in Notes from Underground

The timeline below shows where the character Zverkov appears in Notes from Underground. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2, Chapter 3
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
...sort of ordinary house fly.” They are planning a farewell dinner for a friend named Zverkov, an army officer who was leaving St. Petersburg. The underground man had hated Zverkov in... (full context)
Human Nature Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
The underground man remembers how once Zverkov was bragging about his romantic exploits with peasant girls and how if the girls’ fathers... (full context)
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
...man who had always treated the underground man “as a nonentity.” They are all planning Zverkov’s party, and the underground man invites himself to it, offering to help pay. He thought... (full context)
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
...be, but wants to go to prove he isn’t a coward and isn’t intimidated by Zverkov and the others. He finally leaves his home and hires a cab to take him... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 4
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
...as he sits for an hour, waiting, while a waiter sets the table. At last, Zverkov, Simonov, and the others arrive. Simonov apologizes for forgetting to tell the underground man that... (full context)
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Zverkov asks the underground man about his work, speaking with long, drawn-out words, and the underground... (full context)
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
...into the conversation once, and the others notice how drunk he was. He says that Zverkov looks at him “as if I were an insect.” (full context)
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...comment about how he hates “obscene stories and the men who tell them,” alluding to Zverkov’s habit of telling such stories. Everyone is upset at this, and Ferfichkin says the underground... (full context)
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
...He says that his “enemies behaved as if I weren’t even in the room.” Finally, Zverkov suggests they all go to a brothel. (full context)
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Human Nature Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
The underground man asks Zverkov and everyone else for their forgiveness, apologizing for his behavior and for insulting them. Zverkov... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...man, so he follows after in a cab, talking to himself. He resolves to slap Zverkov in the face and plans how to go about doing it. Zverkov was going to... (full context)
Thought vs. Action Theme Icon
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
Reason and Rationality Theme Icon
Spite, Pain, and Suffering Theme Icon
Literature and Writing Theme Icon
...to “wipe out” the disgrace of his behavior at the party, he fantasizes about confronting Zverkov. Even if he is arrested and sent to prison for attacking him, he images tracking... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8
Loneliness, Isolation, and Society Theme Icon
...the previous night. He decides that he must “rescue at all costs” his reputation with Zverkov and Simonov. He borrows money from Anton Antonych so that he can pay back Simonov... (full context)