The aim of this paper is to discuss the cultural legacy left to the present generations by one of the most prolific and globally acknowledged giants of Russian classical literature Fyodor Dostoevsky. The paper focuses on the “Gentle Creature” and the “Ridiculous Man” short stories and provides a detailed compare and contrast analysis of the main protagonists of both stories, focusing on the physical and mental health; the paper provides a detailed outline of the protagonists’ social and personal accomplishments. The main characters of the both stories seem to be an unhappy people, due to the fact that both of them experience severe and psychologically traumatic life situations. Both of them sensed the bereavement and they are fully aware of what a true emotional pain is. Fyodor Dostoevsky skillfully contrived to deliver the message to the general public about the complexities, stresses and strains of the life in the 19th century in Imperial Russia. This report accentuates the differences and similarities between the main characters of the two poems, the unfortunate pawnbroker and his no less fortunate comrade, the Ridiculous Man.
The Similarities of the Main Characters
While the plot stories are diametrically different, there are numerous differences among the main characters involved to the story. First and foremost, following the descriptions given by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, both persons share many common features in terms of their appearance. To be more exact, both the pawnbroker and the Ridiculous man are not old people, they are in their thirties,, being relatively mature and self-sufficient people. Both personalities are bearded and wear clothes which were typical for the merchants and other mundane people of those times. They wore shipskeen coats and long hair to accentuate that they belong to the laity and are involved neither in politics, nor in the military nor in the clerical service.
Their social status is almost the same, although it is clear from the narration that the revenues accrued by these people differ significantly. The unfortunate pawnbroker operates his own pawnshop and it is generally taken for granted that this source of revenue is always profitable. However, his profession was neither estimable nor respected in the Imperial Russia of the 19th century. Moreover, considering the fact that he was not a member of a nobility, he was treated as a mere civilian and all his wealth does not help him to remedy his problems, as it does for the rest of the well-off, but at the same time noble population of the Imperial Russia.
His comrade seems to be unemployed but this fact does not substantially differentiate him from the pawnbroker. The author of the narration purposefully accentuates the attention of the target audience on the fact that the feelings and the thoughts of the people, but not their social position nor their monetary well-being are the factors which determine the happiness of a person.
Besides, both characters do seem to have similar values. Both respect the church, although the ridiculous man has hardly restrained himself from committing a suicide, the action which by all standards is considered as one of the gravest clerical misdeeds.
The Differences of the Personalities
First and foremost, these people do seem to have similar life orientation and they employ the same ways to interpret their mindsets. Both men are quite pessimistic at the beginning of the story, but their approach is gradually changed with the narration of the events. However, while the ridiculous man seems to have found his vacation (to tell that the truth is the most sacred value and that the truth must be told everywhere, every when and by everybody and the eternal salvation and overall happiness will be achieved). The destiny and the sense of life were found by first hero, and the second one does seem to have completely lost that feeling. To be more exact, the premature demise of his wife resulted in his complete mental breakdown and he seemed to be completely devastated emotionally. To be more exact, he thought that it was his personal guilt that she resolved to quit the life. He started to wail and to lament her death and he fully understood that nothing could have been done to remedy the situation.
In this context, the message delivered by the author is the following. While the people may have different social and monetary status, their life position is primarily determined not by the money and the assets they have at their disposal, not by their marital status or the connections they have but by their internal stamina and morale. If the person is capable of ruining the negative elements internally and he masters the art of realizing his true vacation, whatever external circumstances do take place, and this person will be happy. As Dostoevsky said “Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man” (Joseph, 2005).
Having recapitulated the main points of the essay, it can be accentuated that the main characters of the stories at issue have a number of similar features, as well as they are completely different in their mindsets. Being almost equal socially and having completely different sources of income, they have generated diametrically opposite mindsets at the end of the stories. While the Ridiculous man has comprehended his vocation and God or the Destiny helped him to realize the importance of the Truth, the suicide committed by the young wife of the pawnbroker has taught him nothing, but urged him to lament and to wail further, while he should have mastered all his courage and fortitude to weather the storm in the ocean of his life.