Thursday, January 22, 2015

Study Questions On Dostoevsky's DREAM OF THE RIDICULOUS MAN

I have been writing a study guide on a collection of short stories from Dostoevsky called THE GOSPEL IN DOSTOEVSKY, which collects stories from his many novels. I topped the study off with a study guide on his short story THE DREAM OF THE RIDICULOUS MAN, which is not included in the collection. Here is that study

You can read the short story here: 

How does the Ridiculous Man feel about those who laugh at him and why does he feel this way?
What would it be like to be the only one who knows ‘the truth’?
What does it mean to say ‘as with learning, so with life’?
Why did the man seek to deny his ‘ridiculousness’?
What one conviction haunted this man?
Have you ever been haunted by this thought?
What condition is this man suffering from and what is it like for him?
Have you ever found yourself in this kind of place?
What resolution does the man come to and why does he come to this resolution?
Who does he encounter on the way to his home and his suicide? How does he react to this person?
What does this say about him? What does it reveal about his condition?

What of humanity remained in the man at this time?
What thought consumed him after the encounter with the girl?
What does this tell us about our experience of life and our knowledge of life?
What does it mean to turn into an ‘absolute zero’?
Why does he say he acted as he did toward the girl?
How did the encounter with the girl save the man’s life?
What is the point of the thought experiment of committing a crime on the Moon or Mars?
What does the man say of dreams?

How does the dream begin? Reflect on this.
What ‘prayer’ does the man pray in the coffin in his dream? Reflect on this prayer.
What is the man’s meeting with divinity like at first?
Why does he feel revulsion?
What is it like for him to travel through space and time?
What does he say to God in response to his feelings of revulsion? What do you think of this?
What is his ‘resurrection’ in the dream like?
What kind of planetary system does he come to after travelling millions of light miles?
What does the man say of life on this new Earth?
What does he say of love on the old Earth? What do you think of this?
What is this New Earth like? What are its people like?
What is this place?

What other differences does this man note about the new Earth?
What do you think of this commentary on our sinful world?
How did this affect him in the long term?
What is their relationship like with nature and what is the significance of this, theologically speaking?
How does he respond to these people?
What is life without sin like here?
What does he say about dreams at the end of this section?
What do you think of this?
What does the man admit about his thoughts concerning this ‘dream’? Why does he think it was more than a dream?

What do you think of this man becoming the source of corruption on this planet?
What kind of commentary on Original Sin is this? How does it differ from orthodox Christianity?
What does all of this say about sin in general? What is sin for Dostoevsky?
How does this compare to other Dostoevskian messages in the other stories we’ve read?
What does it mean to say shame is turned into a virtue?
What connection is there for Dostoevsky between idolatry and our own desire to be saved?
What do you think of the commentary on science here?
How is the fallen state of the Second Earth a reflection upon the Edenic State that preceded it?
Why did the man love these people more after they had fallen and what do you think of this?
Reflect upon the Ridiculous Man asking to be crucified and being put in a madhouse instead.

After The Dream
How did the dream save the man?
Why does he think he saw the truth in the dream?
What kind of ‘preacher’ is this?
What is his life like and what are his goals now?
What is his attitude about life and how does this illuminate Dostoevsky’s philosophy?
Reflect on this quote: ‘The consciousness of life is higher than life, the knowledge of the laws of happiness is higher than happiness" - that is what must be fought! And I will. If only everyone wants it, everything can be set up at once.’

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