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Notes from Underground

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

I sensed vaguely that she was going to pay dearly for it all. . . .

In this quotation, from Chapter IX of “Apropos of the Wet Snow,” the Underground Man remembers his reaction to Liza’s arrival at his apartment. He has been shrieking with rage at his servant, Apollon, and is dressed in a ragged bathrobe. When Liza enters the apartment, the Underground Man “die[s] of shame” and runs into his room in a panic. When he returns, he tries to appear dignified, but continues to feel extreme embarrassment. He is infuriated by Liza’s patient, expectant stare, as he feels pressure to do something impressive to equal his speech in the brothel. The Underground Man’s humiliation is increased by the fact that in the brothel, when he was convincing Liza of the error of her ways, he felt enormous power over her. He felt he could manipulate her emotions, influence her choices about her own life, and control how she felt about herself and about him. He imagined that she admired and respected him. These feelings were particularly valuable to the Underground Man after his humiliation at Zverkov’s farewell dinner. Now he has lost his temper in front of Apollon, the one person over whom he feels he should have some control. The Underground Man therefore feels particularly powerless, imagining he has lost all respect and dignity in Liza’s eyes. He holds her responsible for the fact that she has seen him in this miserable situation. Her presence has made him aware of the shabbiness of his bathroom, his apartment, his behavior with Apollon—the shabbiness of his entire existence. In this way, the Underground Man transfers the responsibility for all of his unhappiness to Liza’s shoulders. Just as he can turn his hatred of others toward himself, he can turn his hatred of himself toward others, especially when they are weaker, poorer, and of less respectable than he.