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Unlocking the psychology of character: imagery of the subconscious in the works of F.M. Dostoevskii

Zeschky, Jan Frederik (2009) Unlocking the psychology of character: imagery of the subconscious in the works of F.M. Dostoevskii. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines imagery of the subconscious throughout the works of Fedor Mikhailovich Dostoevskii and how it can be used to analyse the psychology of his characters and the author himself. While studies exist on the role of, for example, dreams in Dostoevskii’s works, this thesis aims to comprehensively examine the author’s experience and use of subconscious phenomena as a whole, and their most important role in his texts: their effect on the characters who experience them. In each chapter, one form of this imagery in Dostoevskii’s works is explained and analysed with respect to individual characters or themes, and then Dostoevskii’s own experiences of the relevant subconscious phenomenon are explored. Chapter 1 looks at imagery arising through characters’ daydreams, while the author’s recurrent theme of childhood memories is also analysed as a type of nostalgic daydream. Chapter 2 examines the ‘greyer’ area of dreamlike reality, which in itself operates at two poles: confusion between dream and reality; and reality so intense as to appear unreal. The role of the ‘unreal’ city of St Petersburg is also analysed, as well as Dostoevskii’s narrative mode of ‘fantastic realism’. Chapter 3 looks at characters’ hallucinations, while Chapter 4 focuses on the character of Goliadkin in Двойник and his decline into split personality. Chapter 5 analyses the imagery of dreams, be they of anxiety and warning, of catharsis and peripeteia, or those featuring Dostoevskii’s recurring motif of the ‘Golden Age’ of mankind. The final chapter differs slightly in form by focusing on the overarching condition of epilepsy. Analysis of the author’s principal epileptic character, Prince Myshkin in Идиот, reveals the ‘deepest’ point of subconscious imagery, the ecstatic aura. Upon examining the condition’s recorded effects on Dostoevskii, epilepsy is ultimately discerned as the origin of many of the author’s experiences of subconscious phenomena and, in turn, the imagery of the subconscious used in his works. Moreover, experiences of subconscious phenomena are found to be a vital source of literary inspiration and motivation for Dostoevskii; so the correlating imagery of the subconscious is thus able to reveal fictional characters’ deepest drives and can be used as a means to glean vital, otherwise unseen, insights into their psychology.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: russian literature, dostoevskii, dostoevsky, dostoyevsky, imagery, psychology, character, author, subconscious, daydreams, memory, dreamlike reality, dreamlike, confusion, intensity, st petersburg, fantastic realism, hallucinations, split personality, dreams, golden age, epilepsy, aura
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PG Slavic, Baltic, Albanian languages and literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies
Supervisor's Name: Rogatchevski, Dr. Andrei and Tejerizo, Dr. Margaret
Date of Award: 2009
Depositing User: Mr Jan F Zeschky
Unique ID: glathesis:2009-827
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Jul 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:26
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/827

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