The Diary of a Madman

by

Nikolai Gogol

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The Diary of a Madman: October 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poprishchin begins a running commentary on the personality of his boss, the director. He believes the director is a “very intelligent man” because his whole study is filled with bookcases. He also believes the director has a “special liking” for him, and reveals that he wishes the director’s daughter, Sophie, felt similarly warm towards him.
Poprishchin writes a diary entry about his boss, the director. As he is still constantly attuned to markers of high status, Poprishchin assumes that the number of books in the director’s study means he is an educated man. He also believes that the director has a fondness for him. Poprishchin does not provide proof for either of these claims, but his diary offers no alternative viewpoints. Poprishchin’s written fantasies remain uncorroborated.
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Sophie then enters the study, and Poprishchin jumps to attention. He thinks she is “magnificent,” and when she speaks, he compares her voice to a “canary.” Sophie asks if her father has stopped by, and Poprishchin thinks of a gracious, lofty phrase meant to impress her. But instead of saying it aloud, he only answers, “No, ma’am.”
Sophie enters her father’s study, and Poprishchin returns to the poetic language of his infatuation. When Sophie directly addresses Poprishchin, however, he does not verbalize any of his thoughts. This separation between Poprishchin’s feelings and his outward speech is another sign of his isolation: he seems unable to express what he feels and hides his true thoughts from others.
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Sophie then leaves the room, and a lackey comes in and dismisses Poprishchin from his duties for the day. Poprishchin mentally criticizes him for his lack of manners. He points out how the “knaves” once offered him “some snuff” but did not bother to get up, despite the fact that Poprishchin is a “man of noble birth.”
After Sophie leaves, Poprishchin reverts back to his normal behavior. He is angered by his coworkers, whom he believes are disrespectful, and seems frustrated that people he considers to be his inferiors ignore his noble status.
Themes
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Isolation Theme Icon