Isolated from society in a tenement basement in St. Petersburg, a malicious former civil servant vents his resentments. In the rambling notes that follow, we are exposed to the inner turmoil of the Underground Man, who represents the voice of his generation. An emotional, paranoid knot of contradictions, the spiteful narrator is also desperate to join a society he loathes, if only to prove his superiority to it.
Exploring themes of free will versus determinism, Dostoyevsky’s existential exploration was written to challenge increasingly popular Western egoist philosophies. In the Underground Man, he found the embodiment of the antihero, whose behavior—like all human behavior—defies rationalization.