Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Nikolai Gogol's The Diary of a Madman. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
The Diary of a Madman: Introduction
The Diary of a Madman: Plot Summary
The Diary of a Madman: Detailed Summary & Analysis
The Diary of a Madman: Themes
The Diary of a Madman: Quotes
The Diary of a Madman: Characters
The Diary of a Madman: Symbols
The Diary of a Madman: Theme Wheel
Brief Biography of Nikolai Gogol
Historical Context of The Diary of a Madman
Other Books Related to The Diary of a Madman
- Full Title: The Diary of a Madman
- When Written: 1835
- Where Written: St. Petersburg
- When Published: 1835
- Literary Period: 19th-century Russian realism
- Genre: Short story
- Setting: The story takes place in a section of the city of St. Petersburg. After Poprishchin descends into insanity, he believes he is living in Spain; he is actually in an unnamed insane asylum.
- Climax: Poprishchin begins to believe he is Spain’s long-lost king and is taken away to an insane asylum.
- Antagonist: Aksenty Ivanovich Poprishchin, the lord chancellor (a worker at the insane asylum)
- Point of View: First person
Extra Credit for The Diary of a Madman
The Northern Bee. Poprishchin mentions reading the Bee, short for the Northern Bee, a newspaper circulated in St. Petersburg. The newspaper, often read by those in the middle class, covered domestic and foreign affairs and sometimes printed stories about literature and philosophy. The Bee also featured stories about insane asylums, which may have provided inspiration for “Diary of a Madman.”
The Inquisition. When Poprishchin is in the asylum, he believes his capture and torture is a result of the Spanish Inquisition. The Inquisition was a judicial institution established in Spain to persecute heretics who held opinions contrary to orthodox Christian beliefs. The inquisitors who carried out the mission of the Inquisition were known for their brutal tactics.