This story highlights the daily, perceptions, feelings, relationships and attitudes towards the society, death and life of Nikolai Stepanovich. Stepanovich, is University professor of medicine, married to Varya, with two children; Liza and an officer son who serves at Warsaw. In addition to these, Nikolai has Katya whom he adopted from his colleague who passed on. The story revolves around Nikola’s relationship with these people as well as his colleagues and students. It also talks about Nikolai’s feelings towards people’s attitudes towards science and medicine. However, this essay looks at the personal relationship Nikolai has with himself, wife and Katya.
One way of obtaining healthy relationships with others is having a healthy one with oneself. Having inner peace may contribute to obtaining healthy relationships with others. Stepanovich seem unsettled with himself and this affects his relationships with his family and society. At the beginning, the story describes Nikolai’s acquaintances with Russian and foreign people. It says that every educated individual in Russia knew his name. However, Stepanovich has a poor perception of himself. This is evidenced by his description of himself. He says that his name, as he sees himself, is a sixty-two years old man with a balding head, false teeth, unsightly and dingy. This form of self-criticism is evidence of someone who despises himself. An individual with inner peace and self-love would not use such descriptions. His poor relationship with himself affects his perception on life and death. He sees himself as a person who would soon die. It also affects his functioning, especially his sleeping pattern. He can barely sleep for two hours, wakes up and does nothing until morning. Research indicates a great impact that inner peace has on someone’s health.
This inner peace can be achieved through reflective review, which improves one’s understanding of their emotions, personal biases and interpretations. This reflective review improves interpersonal exchanges. Nikolai’s mental and physical health is unstable as he described. Much of this can be attributed to his psychological perception of himself and his surroundings. Reflective review involves a series of internal dialogues with external reflections. The internal or intrapersonal dialogue exposes and defines the relationship one has with him/herself. A troubled person will have constant negative dialogues with themselves. This is evident in Nikolai’s case, as he not only criticizes himself, but his wife, colleagues, students and daughter as well. He perceives himself and everyone around him negatively, as illustrated in his description of his wife. He says that he looks at her and wonders if she is the same Varya he fell in love with because she is dull, ungainly, old and stout. Nikolai’s negative dialogue is reflected in his poor relationship with those around him, as well as his poor physical and mental state. Another relationship is Nikolais’ family relationship.
Families have a great influence on one’s health, perceptions, and attitudes towards life. Families create balance and commitment values in an individual, as well as a variety of other benefits. An effective way of resolving family problems is through communication. However, relationships within families are not without problems, as is expected in any interaction between two or more individuals. However, in Nikolai’s case, he seems detached from his family, unable to communicate with anyone. As his wife talks about their children, he stares at her and says nothing. He has his own thoughts and put no effort to communicate the thoughts with his family. the major triggers in most family problems are differences in personalities, opinions values and goals. In addition to these, other causes include financial problems, illnesses, physical illnesses and life circumstances. In Nikolai’s case, his problems seem to emanate from the differences his with his wife regarding money, life and life circumstances.
He says that he no longer enjoyed having dinner with his family since he became the “Excellency”. This is because his wife had changed their menu from simple cabbage soup, to a more complex mixture of meals. Despite these inner sentiments, he does not voice out his feelings. All through the story, Nikolai keeps his different opinions to himself. In the above case, it is evident that his wife is easily swept by status and wealth while Nikolai struggles to remain reserved. Varya’s quest for social status is also visible when she tells Nikolai of their daughter’s poor dressing and their son’s need of financial support. Their differences also come in Nikola’s relationship with Katya. Varya hates Katya and despises the relationship Katya has with Nikolai. On the other hand, Nikolai is closer and more open with Katya. He is able to talk to her and express his feelings freely about what is bothering her. The relationship between Nikolai and Katya is better than his relationship with Liza. He says that their relationship used to be good when Liza was young, but this changed when she grew older.
When Liza kissed him on the forehead, he says it felt like sting. This is contrary to the time he used to appreciate the same gesture of love. At the dinner table, Nikolai says that he became aware of the diminishing inner life of both his daughter and wife; feels like he no longer has a family; his wife is a sham while his daughter is unreal. He says that they are constraint to each other. This feeling is comparable to a feeling of hatred though he does not reveal this. In a family relationship, it would be normal to have negative feelings at times, which family member should be able to resolve. However, Nikolai seems contented with the situation, as he makes no effort of resolving these issues. Nikolai also despises Liza’s relationship with Gnekker but he does not tell Liza. He appears completely detached from his family, yet close to Katya.
Compared to his relations with his family, Nikolai’s relationship with Katya is much better. He is more involved in Katya’s life more than he in Liza’s life. Katya is also very close to Nikolai. She thinks of Nikolai as a father and an only friend.katya advises Nikolai to leave his family and go away, “to live life”, according to her, His family is the main cause of his sadness and without them, he would be happy. Relationships, particularly family relationships problems usually affect one’s well being, and are evidenced by a number of signs such as difficulties in sleeping or eating, feeling confused, feeling alone, difficulty in concentrating, and having negative emotions like sadness, anxiety and sadness. Nikolai expresses all these symptoms. He cannot concentrate for long, as he says that whenever he writes, he forgets the beginning by the time he finishes.
If Nikolai’s family is the primary cause of his condition, the Katya would be right in advising him to go away from them. This would question the very foundation upon which marriages and families are formed. Families should be there to support and build, not destroy someone’s life. At sixty-two, Nikolai has given up hope for a better family, and sees himself dying very soon. His family, especially his wife, pays little attention to his needs. Katya asks if they remembered to inform him of the meals. At the beginning of the story, Nikolai says that every day; his wife goes to his room and after talking, makes a gesture to remind him of his breakfast. Neither Varya nor Liza makes an effort to help him with their financial situation. He feels like they do not care. Nikolai seeks love, yet he cannot obtain it from his wife or daughter. He seems to have found this love from Katya. However, it is not sufficient because she is much younger, and is like a daughter to him. Nikolai emotionally struggles with everyone around him. He is not at peace with himself and with his family, and the only thing he finds of value in his life is his work at the University. He knows that he should give up his position to a younger person, but he seems incapable of doing that. He fears life, as well as death. He says that after dinner, his nervous excitement climaxes, and he starts crying; afraid that he could be dying. Nikolai is ashamed of his tears yet feels something insufferable in his soul. He can no longer bear anything he sees or the sounds of his daughter and wife. Nikolai is depressed about life, and has become oppressed by death. He sees himself dying very soon, as he tells Katya. He is disappointed with his society, as well as his family. The only thing he likes in his life is his work, which is threatening to leave soon too.
This story about the life of Nikolai expresses the intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts that people experience. Based on the Life of Nikolai, it highlights problems in relationships, especially family relationships. Nikolai has a poor relationship with his family, especially wife. Although Nikolai has many friends, he is typically lonely. The only person he can confide in is Katya.