Frankly, Underground Man drove me crazy. I understand that Dostoevsky intentionally didn’t make Underground Man the most likeable character, but I still strongly disliked being inside his head. He was essentially battling Oskar for the number one spot on my “Least Favorite Character” list. Having said that, you can imagine my relief when Gregor came along. Gregor, who is almost selfless to a fault, is a character I can root for.
This great disparity among the characters we have read about makes me wonder why authors make a character either likeable or unlikeable. This obviously goes far beyond the protagonist/antagonist, hero/villain device. What is the literary value of making a character either likeable or unlikeable? You would think this question would have a simple answer, but I personally can’t seem to figure it out. What truly confuses me is why Dostoevsky made Underground Man such an unbearable character, especially since he seems to represent many of Dostoevsky’s own ideals (i.e. his view that humans are not naturally good, freedom to choose is the ultimate goal, and scientific rationalism is the end all). For me, when I don’t like a character and honestly question their mental stability, it makes me less inclined to agree with their opinions on anything really. So why on earth would Dostoevsky use Underground Man to get across so many of his own opinions? My friend, this is the question that haunts me. Unfortunately, I’m about 133 years too late to ask Dostoevsky personally.