In Tolstoy’s The Resurrection, the protagonist, Prince Nekhlyudov realizes that the young innocent woman in the jury trial, who is now being sentenced to ten years of penal servitude in Siberia, is his once beloved lover Katusha, who he had impregnated and abandoned ten years earlier. After discovering this Nekhlyudov goes on a mission to absolve himself of the guilt of ruining Katusha ( now the prostitute, named Maslova), to assure that she will not suffer anymore He goes on a spiritual journey of reform and good-will, traveling not only the panoramic landscape of Russia, going to the far eastern part of Siberia, but into the homes of the peasants who are filthy, and into the gaol where he sees much suffering and in justice towards the prisoners. In this process of reformation, Nekhlyudov realizes that the cruelty and violence that are sanctioned by the Russian government do not help to reform the damned or punishable, but rather, perpetuate their depravity and their hopelessness, thereby creating more crime and rebellion. Nekhlyudov, disliking what is evil in the men around him, was able to dislike what is evil in himself, and attempted to reform himself. The hatred he felt for the men in his life lessened when he self-reflected and realized that within himself were the same faults and weaknesses. Knowing this and making a determination to reform himself gave him supreme peace, instead of the original insensitive arrogance he felt towards his countrymen, an arrogance which is a common trait of rich aristocracy.
What I believe Tolstoy was attempting to express in writing The Resurrection
is that each one of us, at every moment is being pulled by either our animal nature, that is selfish and cares solely for our own personal universe, or our spiritual self, which regards the happiness of others, and bring us true lasting happiness and peace. Tolstoy uses the character of Nekhlyudov to stand as metaphor for the dying Russian aristocracy that is insensitive and callous to the sufferings of the poor, by dong so he indicts the inhumane penal system, and the brutally cruel institution of Russian serfdom. Tolstoy asks the reader and society as a whole, to reflect and to part from the hypnosis of social conditioning that believes human life is dispensable. I think Tolstoy wrote The Resurrection to awaken in the hearts of his countrymen compassion and respect for their brothers. Ultimately, this novel has stood the test of time, because one- hundred years later, the simplistic candor of his message is clear, that we alone must liberate ourselves from that human impulse to feel that we can use and exploit others out of our own animal greed and ignorance. Tolstoy enlightens the reader into discovering, that we are all connected and that our happiness is inseparable from others and he wants the reader to engrain with their lives the simple fact that no one is immune to the law of causality and the pain we inflict onto others is eventually felt in our hearts.
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