Literature; Gender studies
In Fyodor Dostoevsky's works Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment, and The Idiot, the characters of Lisa, Sonya, and Nastasya Filippovna reveal the author's inability to envision an autonomous woman leading a functional life independent of male influence. These three female characters possess distinct levels of credibility, independence, and predictability. In an evaluation of Dostoevsky's female characters, one must not only address whether these characters are well-rounded, but also question whether Dostoevsky's female characters author their own stories with a unique voice or whether male protagonists always overpower them. Both Lisa and Sonya are ultimately defined by the male protagonists in their respective novels and are so idealized that they seem unrealistic. While Lisa and Sonya fail to be either completely credible or well-rounded, Dostoevsky proves with his character of Nastasya Filippovna that he is capable of creating a believable, authentic, and autonomous female character. Nevertheless, it is precisely this independent character who actively seeks her own self-destruction, illustrating that the credible, autonomous cannot properly function in Dostoevsky's literary world.
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