The Parallel of Alexandra’s Letter: Analyzing Netochka Nezvanova
In the unfinished novel Netochka Nezvanova, Fyodor Dostoevsky portrays Alexandra’s letter from her former lover S.O. as a parallel for little Netochka and Katya’s relationship/friendship. It is perhaps nclear what a 19th century Russian author intended by this arrangement; nonetheless, this relationship whether romantic or not is seen similar to the relationship of Alexandra and her former lover S.O. These similarities are seen in three ways; first by the fact that both S.O. and Netochkas first reaction to the other was recognizing their beauty, then the fact that both were lower class compared to the two sisters (Alexandra and Katya), by the fact both relationships end by other people and lastly by Netochkas response to it all, the only one that knows fully their two stories.
In the early passages of Alexandras ‘love letter,’ S.O. writes as he is exclaiming his love to Alexandra but also he is wishing her goodbye because others force them apart. S.O. starts out by saying that in the beginning he did not love Alexandra but rather just thought she was attractive. S.O. speaks of this in his letter by saying to her; “Do you know how I understood you at first? Passion consumed me like fire, flowing like poison through my blood, stirring up thoughts and feelings” (Dostoyevsky 141). This initial reaction is similar to Netochkas’ first sight of Katya, though through younger terms and phrases in which Netochka first describes her love’s face as; “Try to imagine a face of idyllic charm and stunning, dazzling beauty; one of those before which you stop, transfixed in sweet confusion, trembling with delight; a face that makes you grateful for its existence, for allowing your eyes to fall upon it, for passing you by” (Dostoyevsky 81). This first infatuation with merely her outer image only is exactly what S.O. was describing on how he felt towards Alexandra.
Secondly, S.O. is constantly speaking of his inferiority to Alexandra. Speaking to her as referring to when he did not actually love her but simply found her beautiful. He tells her how it can never work because of her superiority and even if she managed to ‘bring him to her level’ no one would ever allow it because “They do not know, They cannot understand, They are incapable of it” (Dostoyevsky 143). Likewise with Netochka and Katya; the former was brought in as a poor orphan with literally nothing to her name and because of her lower rank the people surrounding them would not allow it (other than prince X of course who is an exception). In both relationships we see this push by everyone else with nothing but love between each other. In the end S.O. is forced to leave Alexandra because of everyone else and similarly Katya is forced to leave Netochka because of others.
Netochka clearly recognizes this similarity between their two stories in that she takes the letter so personally; “I felt as if something had been resolved within me, and that the old sadness had left my heart and something new was taking its place—something over which I still knew not whether to grieve or rejoice” (Dostoyevsky 144). Netochka clearly recognizes these sad similarities and is trying to figure out why she feels the way she does. Which is while in the end before Alexandra dies, Netochka recognizes more the Petyr her pain and tries her hardest from stopping him from bringing it up. The two stories collide in an amazing twist in which both of Prince X’s daughters go into ‘forbidden’ loves in which they are both forcibly separated from their lover. This might be attributed to Prince X great fatherhood in which he taught both his daughters true love and not to care about their position in society. Because both sisters are the only ones who seem not to care about Netochkas poverty and when Katya is heard to mention it she is quickly rebuked by her father himself. This shows the type of father he was and though neither relationships were successful, the fact that these two rich princesses could fall for ‘commoners’ was impressive in itself.
Therefore, Dostoyevsky does portray Alexandra’s letter from her former lover as a parallel for little Netochka and Katya’s relationship/friendship. This is shown by S.O. and Netochkas similar characters and lives, by the fact that the two princesses were both ‘lowering themselves’, by others forcing them apart and by the reaction Netochka gave to the story and how she took it so personally. All these similarities prove that Dostoyevsky intended this parallel, which might have gone on if Dostoyevsky had finished this novel.
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