The Diary of a Madman

by

Nikolai Gogol

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The Diary of a Madman: November 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poprishchin describes sitting in his director’s study and sharpening pens. He soon switches his focus to the behavior of the director, and he wonders what is going on in the director’s head. Poprishchin laments not having the chance to get a “closer look” at these gentlemen’s lives, and wishes he knew what they do “in their circle.”
Poprishchin writes in his diary about the director once again, this time trying to imagine what his superior must be thinking. Poprishchin then reveals his eagerness to learn the ways of high-class men. Poprishchin’s fixation on social status is equally on display when he is interacting with superiors and inferiors.
Themes
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Poprishchin confesses that he has tried “several times” to start a conversation with the director, but that his “tongue” would not “obey” him. He then admits to wishing he could see into the drawing room, where there are “rich furnishings,” and then fantasizes about seeing Sophie’s bedroom, with all her accessories and clothing.
Poprishchin’s social interactions show a clear split between his innermost thoughtswhich are verboseand his outward speech, which is shy and brief. He seems aware of this discrepancy and admits that there were many times that he meant to say something, but could not. Only through writing, then, is Poprishchin able to live out his fantasies of conversing with his superiors.  
Themes
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Writing, Escapism, and Fantasy Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Poprishchin then remembers the conversation he heard between the two dogs a few weeks earlier and decides to retrieve the letter from the dogs. He recalls how he once called Medji over to him, and asked her to tell him about her owner, Sophie; Medji had not responded. He then resolves to find the other dog, Fidèle, and question her instead.
Poprishchin fully believes his own fantasies about the existence of talking dogs, a sign that his insanity has progressed. In fact, his diary entry reveals that he has already interrogated one of the dogs for information about Sophie, a completely illogical action. As Poprishchin’s madness deepens, he resolves to talk to the other dog, Fidèle.
Themes
Insanity Theme Icon