The Diary of a Madman

by

Nikolai Gogol

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Diary of a Madman can help.

The Diary of a Madman: The 86th of Martober Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Poprishchin’s manager tells him to go to the office, as he has not been to work for three weeks. Poprishchin goes and refuses to apologize to the section chief for his truancy. His coworkers place papers in front of him, but he refuses to return to his work, and merely sits, waiting for the director to arrive.
Again, the diary entry’s date underscores how far removed from reality Poprishchin has become; Martober is of course a nonexistent month. Poprishchin’s insanity has kept him from conducting his normal routine. When he finally arrives at the office, he refuses to apologize for his absence. Fully convinced of his royal status, he is unwilling to do the work he was assigned. His mania only serves to further isolate him from everyone around him.
Themes
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Insanity Theme Icon
Poprishchin’s coworkers button up their coats and become more formal as the director approaches, but Poprishchin refuses to react. He thinks he should not “stand up before” the director, because he’s merely a “doornail.” Some of his coworkers hand him a paper to be signed, but instead of signing his name, he writes Ferdinand VIII to emphasize his royal status.
Poprishchin’s coworkers, wary of their superior’s authority, begin to act more formal when he arrives. Poprishchin, however, believes the director is now his inferior. This is, of course, the ultimate reversal for a man who it’s clear feels deeply inferior to the director. Poprishchin’s deluded belief in his own nobility is so thorough that even his job cannot shake him from his delusion. Writing, here represented by his signature, once again becomes the outlet through which Poprishchin’s confirms expresses his inner world.
Themes
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Writing, Escapism, and Fantasy Theme Icon
Insanity Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Poprishchin then walks out of the office and goes to the director’s apartment. He goes into Sophie’s boudoir, and she is startled to see him; she begins to back away from him. Poprishchin does not announce himself as Ferdinand VIII but says that they will finally be together. He then walks out, thinking about how women are “perfidious,” and that they are in “love” with the “devil.”
Poprishchin, finally confident in his own status because he believes he is a king, declares his intentions to Sophie for the first time. Poprishchin’s delusion of nobility finally gives him the courage to share the thoughts he has hidden away in his diary. Only within his mania can he actually find the courage to say what he really thinks. Of course, doing so in this state does nothing but frighten Sophie.
Themes
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Insanity Theme Icon
Poprishchin then thinks to himself that all women want to marry the “devil.” He condemns all women’s fathers, who wish to get “into court,” and calls the women’s families “ambitious Judases,” as he believes they will sell their daughters for money. Suddenly, Poprishchin claims that all this family greed and ambition is the work of a “barber” who is working with a midwife to spread “Mohammedanism” in the world.
Poprishchin’s insanity turns his devotion towards Sophie into mania and paranoia. He begins to rant about families who marry their daughters off to wealthy menlike the director plans to do to Sophieand claims they are ambitious liars. Poprishchin then begins to come up with conspiracy theories, illustrating a new level to his madness.
Themes
Social Class and Status Theme Icon
Insanity Theme Icon
Get the entire The Diary of a Madman LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Diary of a Madman PDF