Notes from Underground



Characters Zverkov

Zverkov is a prime example of the kind of man the Underground Man hates most, “l’homme de la nature et de la vérité.” Zverkov is an active and decisive man, preferring to pursue concrete goals rather than contemplate the value of those goals in modern society. He has been very successful, having advanced far in his career, seduced numerous women, and gained the admiration of his friends and acquaintances. In school, the Underground Man hated Zverkov for his stupidity and boastfulness, and resented him for his wealth, good looks, and popularity. The Underground Man explains that Zverkov was popular because he was “favored with the gifts of nature”—his social success was rather Darwinian. By the 1840s, Zverkov is much the same as he was in school, except a little fatter, probably because of his hearty enjoyment of food along with wine and women. The Underground Man feels that Zverkov treats him with condescension. The Underground Man is right, but Zverkov at least attempts to treat him politely. We see Zverkov, as we see all of the other characters in the novel, only through the eyes of the Underground Man. It is difficult, therefore, to get an objective view of Zverkov’s real personality. The Underground Man describes Zverkov as a coarse, mincing, piggish idiot, but we can also see that Zverkov is amiable and generous with his friends. His rudeness to the Underground Man can be explained at least partially by the Underground Man’s aggressive behavior.