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The Possessed: Dostoevsky’s Conscientious Monarchy

Yuanlin Liu
English Language and Literature Studies , Volume 11; doi:10.5539/ells.v11n1p31

Abstract: In the mock apocalypse of The Possessed, Fyodor Dostoevsky references biblical imagery to advocate for a conscientious monarchy as the ideal government to lead the Russian masses from deception. While Varvara Petrovna Stavrogin’s oppression of Stepan Trofimovich Verhovensky is similar to the Babylonian kings’ exploitation of the Jews in Daniel, the love between them and Dostoevsky’s eventual glorification of Stepan Trofimovich as the Russian prophet suggest the longevity of a conscientious monarchy, one in which the monarch takes responsibility for the welfare of its subjects and enforces Christian morality. Additionally, Dostoevsky’s description of the young anarchist revolutionaries, Nikolay Vsyevolodovitch Stavrogin and Pyotr Stepanovich Verhovensky, echos imagery of the beast and harlot in Revelation. Through the parent-child relationship between the monarchists and revolutionaries, Dostoevsky argues that the revolutionaries take root in the traditional social hierarchy yet betray it. This paper analyzes how Dostoevsky uses the biblical parallelisms in The Possessed to foreshadow the end to nihilism and defend traditional morality and the tsar as Russia’s God-ordained ruler.
Keywords: child / Russian / monarchy / biblical / Dostoevsky / Possessed / revolutionaries / conscientious / Stepan / Trofimovich

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