Turgenov’s Fathers and Sons has several characters who hold strong views of the world. Pavel believes that Russia needs structure from such things as institution, religion, and class hierarchy. Madame Odintsov views the world as simple so long as she keeps it systematic and free from interference. This essay will focus on perhaps the most interesting and complex character in Fathers and Sons: Bazarov. Vladimir Nabakov writes that “Turgenov takes his creature [B] out of a self-imposed pattern and places him in the the normal world of chance.” By examining Bazarov this essay will make this statement more clear to the reader. Using nihilism as a starting point we shall look at Bazarov’s views and interpretations of science, government and institution. Next we will turn to the issue relationships. Finally we examine Bazarov’s death and the stunning truths it reveals. These issues combined with the theme of nihilism will prove that chance, or fate is a strong force which cannot easily be negated. Nihilism as a concept is used throughout Fathers and Sons. To gain a better understanding of the ideas behind this term let’s look at what Bazarov says on the subject. “We base our conduct on what we recognize as useful… the most useful thing we can do is to repudiate – and so we repudiate” (123). The base concept of nihilism is to deny or negate, and as we learn later in the same paragraph, to negate everything. With this ‘destruction’ of everything from science to art there is no building for nihilists, as Bazarov says “That is not our affair” (126). Nihilists view the current structure of society as concerned with such trivialties as ‘art’ and ‘parliamentism’ while ignoring real life issues such as food, freedom, and equally. Nihilists are aware of these social woes and hence mentally deny to recognize any of the present authority or institutions which only serve to perpetuate a myth. Bazarov agrees with the statement that nihilism “confine[s] [oneself] to abuse” (126). “… I don’t believe in anything: and what is science—science in the abstract? There are sciences as there are trades and professions, but abstract science just doesn’t exist” (98). For Bazarov anything that is not tangible and concrete doesn’t exist. Psychology, quantum mechanics, neurochemistry would be scoffed at by Bazarov. It seems peculiar that Bazarov would say, “… nowadays we laugh at medicine in general, and worship no one,” (197) while at the same time he pursues a career as a doctor.
Commentary Against Absurdity in Goethe’s Faust
Commentary Against Absurdity in Faust
Goethe’s “Faust” could be called a comedy as readily as it is subtitled “A Tragedy.” In the course of the play, the author finds comic or ironic ways to either mock or punish religionists, atheists, demons, and deities. Despite the obvious differences between these, Goethe unites them all by the common threads of ego and ridiculousness. Thus, the play as a whole becomes more of a commentary against absurdity than against religion.
The first victims of satire in Faust are Satan and God, who appear in somewhat small-scale form in an early scene that parallels the Book of Job. In Goethe’s Heaven reigns “The Lord,” to whom a trio of archangels ascribe creation. Enter Mephistopheles, and all semblance of seriousness is lost. Introduced as a demon, and arguably THE Devil, he is witty, cynical, and in general a caricature of what religionists throughout the ages have labeled pure evil. The Lord proceeds to give Mephistopheles permission to go to his “good servant” Faust,…