Ferdinand VIII is the made-up heir to the throne of Spain, and Poprishchin’s alter ego after he officially descends into insanity. After reading headlines in the newspaper, Poprishchin hears that Spain is missing a king and comes to believe he is the lost heir. Ferdinand VIII, as an alter ego, represents both Poprishchin’s desire to escape his circumstances and the fantasy of high-class freedom; although the identity is completely fabricated, it allows Poprishchin a sense of imaginary agency and authority.
By naming himself Ferdinand VIII, Poprishchin seeks to justify his unhappiness and separation from the worlda case of mistaken identity lets him avoid the reality and loneliness of his lackluster life. Poprishchin’s inability to fit into society has caused him to suffer from isolation and mania, but his creation of a mistaken identity allows him to rationalize that sense of disconnect without acknowledging the reality of his circumstances. In naming himself a king, moreover, Poprishchin is able to invent himself anew. He has always envied high-class status and believes his low social ranking has prevented him from everything he has desired, such as wealth and the attention of Sophie, his love interest. Thus Ferdinand VIII further comes to symbolize the promise of happiness and prosperity that Poprishchin believes is inherent to upper-class existence.
Ferdinand VIII Quotes in The Diary of a Madman
They said the director was coming. Many clerks ran up front to show themselves before him. But I didn’t budge… What is a director that I should stand up before him… I was most amused when they slipped me a paper to be signed. They thought I’d write “Chief Clerk So-and-So”… Not a chance! In the central place, where the director of the department signs, I dashed off: “Ferdinand VIII.”