The Diary of a Madman


Nikolai Gogol

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The Diary of a Madman: The Year 2000, 43rd of April Summary & Analysis

Poprishchin writes in his diary that Spain has found a king, and that he is “that king.” He cannot believe he once thought he was merely a councillor. He is glad that he realized his mistaken identity, and that no one thought to put him in an “insane asylum.” He announces to his cleaning woman that he is the king and writes how she almost “died” of “fright” hearing this. Poprishchin assures her that he is not like other Spanish kings, such as Philip II.
The dates of the diary entries begin to reflect Poprishchin’s detachment from reality as his fascination with Spain’s king eventually overtakes any semblance of sanity: he begins to believe that he is Spain’s missing king. As Poprishchin has led an isolated life, he announces this grand revelation to the only person with whom he has regular contact outside of work: his cleaning woman. This adds a moment of dark comedy to the scene as it underscores how far from royalty this man actually is.
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